Magazine: Issue 12
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Preview: Mat Collishaw
Guest writer *George Major previews Mat Collishaw’s long awaited ‘The End of Innocence’ at Dilston Grove this Spring: Mat Collishaw: The End of Innocent @ Dilston Grove CGP London | Southwark Park | Bermondsey | London SE16 2UA 20/04/2012 – 27/05/2012 www.cgplondon.org It’s difficult to think of a more apt location for the first UK exhibition of Mat Collishaw’s video The End of Innocence than CGP London’s Dilston Grove. With this video Collishaw reinterprets and manipulates Francis Bacon’s Study after Pope Innocent X (which of course is itself an appropriation of Velázquez’s iconic portrait of that same subject). Transforming Bacon’s already ambiguous painting into a slowly moving and continuously shifting digital image Collishaw allows the source material to become briefly recognisable before dissolving it over and over again into thousands of shards of colour- creating an effect as if paint is falling away from the canvas in a blizzard of multicoloured pixels which cascade down the surface of the image before once more coalescing into a foggy representation of the familiar portrait without ever quite settling on a solid form.. Oscillating between abstraction and recognisability the hypnotic effect of this continuously shifting video- by turns scary and awesome- is only enhanced by the Dilston Grove gallery space. Aside from the obvious, not to mention provocative, irony of this disintegrating and wavering image of a seventeenth century Pope making such an explosive appearance in what was originally a protestant mission church, the video, which is projected here on a monumental scale in portrait orientation, happens to match the proportions of this cavernous space perfectly. Seeing this work projected onto a screen suspended in the centre of the former church it is almost a surprise to discover that the video was not in fact made specifically to be exhibited in this location, but has appeared in various forms at different scales since 2009. In bringing Collishaw to Dilston Grove CGP are making intelligent use of what would, for many artists, be an impossibly difficult space to fill. This very large and rather cold early twentieth century edifice- an early experiment in poured concrete construction- would be likely to overwhelm any work less striking than that of Collishaw. And The End of Innocence is certainly a striking work. CGP are doubtlessly aware that making the most of Dilston Grove’s potential for exhibiting work on the spectacular scale of The End of Innocence is likely to be effective in encouraging visitors to stay on in the area and visit their other venue; the smaller and more intimate Café Gallery, which is also in Southwark Park and where later this month there will be an opportunity to see the paintings of Cornish artist Sax Impey. Although they are on a very different scale and adhere to quite a different aesthetic to Collishaw’s work, Impey’s paintings and drawings of violently stormy seascapes promise to provide an interesting counterpoint to Collishaw’s video. Collishaw now has rather a long history in the area around Dilston Grove, a Goldsmiths graduate he participated in 1998’s now legendary Freeze group exhibition just a stone’s throw away from here in the building which formerly housed the Dockmaster’s Office at Surrey Quays. At the time of Freeze the Café Gallery was the only permanent art venue in this part of South London and while a lot has changed in the artistic life of Bermondsey since then, the current exhibition is being presented as something of a homecoming for Collishaw. *George Major is an artist and writer based in London, he is co-founder of itinerant gallery Squid & Tabernacle and is currently editing the series of publications- Geographies of The Artist’s Studio- which is due to be published this summer. www.georgemajor.com Image Credits: Mat Collishaw, The End of Innocence, 2009. Video projection with computer hard drive. Photographs by \\\'Artrecorders\\\': Images courtesy of the artist, CGP London and Blain | Southern.
Review: Jacobs Island
Jacob’s Island Responsive Eyes 15 March – 12 May 2012 Anthony Antonellis, Paul B Davis, Thomas Lock, Sara Ludy, Mike Ruiz, Lucy Stokton, Mark Titchner, Artie Vierkant. Curated by Francesca Gavin. With a re-examination of the 1965 MOMA exhibition ‘The Responsive Eye’, Francesca Gavin presents us with the work of 8 artists reassessing the perceptual bombardment of 21st century life and how these artists force us to re-examine our relationship to the screen. The MOMA exhibition divided the sixties generation, some awed by the experience of these ‘retinal’ works, free of conceptual weight, and some dismissing them as little more than psychologists’ diagrams. We visit ‘Responsive Eyes’ to see what has changed in just under half a century... Artie Vierkant Image Object Proofs On walking into Jacob’s Island for ‘Responsive Eyes’ I was instantly bombarded by a wave of colour and motion; Momentarily wafting aimlessly semi-hypnotised by the works, trying to find some hook to latch onto. Eventually I stationed myself at Paul B Davis’s print ‘Surviving the 90’s’, with an air of a magic eye stereogram (A flat image that gives the illusion of being 3-D) I stood and waited, crossed my eyes, stepped back, fixed with a deranged expectation but nothing, no response; A bit of a cruel trick, but equally fairly entertaining to anyone invigilating the show. Responsive Eyes Installation Shot Then heading down the gallery wall via a series of prints by Anthony Antonellis’s which soon lose my attention in favour of Vierkant’s ‘image objects’, digitally manipulated prints on foamboard. I think by this point I was craving a suggestion of the 3-dimensional after being so cruelly denied by Davis’s work. The works are presented as sculpture and given room to breathe outside the confines of a jpeg. We are simultaneously constantly aware of their flatness, of the ubiquity of digital media. The works seem to be in a struggle within themselves, between dimensions. Responsive Eyes Installation Shot The exhibition curator, Francesca Gavin, explains: These artworks are about ‘the process of looking’ rather than ‘optical artworks’. The distinction becomes clear as you navigate the exhibition and realise perception doesn’t end at the retina. Rather than being content in reveling in the optical illusionary delights of op masters such as Bridget Riley and Viktor Vasarley, the visual world has got a lot more complicated and artists working now are responding to this. The screen is ubiquitous, and we are bombarded daily by images and visual trickery, so to see an exhibition willing us enjoy work that ‘exists primarily for its impact on reception rather than for conceptual examination..’ (William Seitz, curator of the 1965 MOMA exhibition) couldn’t be more irrelevant now. Paul B Davies - Surviving the 90s A work that reiterates the complex process of looking is Mike Ruiz’s ‘Replaced’. To produce the work Ruiz downloaded a high-resolution version of Mona Lisa taken into Photoshop where the lady was selected then put through Content-Aware Fill (a Photoshop CS5 tool that automatically generates content based on the existing surrounding content and fills in the selected area). The resulting image is a potential landscape as interpreted by the software. The image was sent to a painting manufacturer in China where an oil painting was produced. Mike Ruiz - Replaced Would even the most discerning of eyes identified the background of the world's most looked at image without i's central figure? More refreshingly, without the distraction of having to satisfy the most pointless question in art, whether she is in fact smiling or not. Our eyes are not always allowed to wander where we'd like them to. As we are implored to do so by Gavin, this show is about the act of looking, and theres more to it than meets the eye. Now running into it's final few weeks, make sure you go and see. Rachel Price. www.jacobsisland.co.uk
Spotlight: Space Station Sixty-Five
Spotlight on: Space Station Sixty-Five 373 Kennington Road, London SE11 4PS Space Station Sixty-Five has launched out of East Dulwich and re-entered in huge, potential-laden space in Kennington. Adam Walker catches up with artist-owners Rachael House and Jo David to find out more. Space Station 65 began almost a decade ago in a small shop-front location in East Dulwich. Developing out of Jo's idea of having a studio and gallery in the same space (which quickly proved impossible), he and Rachael sought to create a critical social space for artists to meet. From the beginning the gallery was made intentionally very welcoming to anyone who might want to drop in, overcoming what they call ‘the threshold problem’, people’s nervousness at not understanding contemporary art. Image: Space Station Sixty-Fives new Kennington Gallery The new Kennington location will provide space to push this vision forward on a much grander scale. For the moment only the gallery space has been opened, already several times the size of the old East Dulwich space and cleverly designed as an internal cube constructed within the room so as to preserve the natural light provided by the extensive windows. The eventual plan though, once the TV production company currently using the other part of the building move out (while being shown round I stumbled into the 'Saturday Kitchen' studio), is to turn the whole complex into an art destination with studios, creative small businesses and a vegetarian cafe around the central court yard. When this is all completed it should be a welcoming focal hub to the growing Kennington art scene; with Gasworks, Danielle Arnaud, Beaconsfield and others just a short walk away. Image: Space Station Sixty-Fives new site entrance in Kennington Managing such an ambitious project alongside their own artistic practices is a difficult balance for the artist-owners. Jo admitted he’d only managed about 2 hours in his studio in the past month, and Rachael’s practice has also had to take a bit of a back seat (despite having several upcoming shows including one at Bermondsey’s Cafe Gallery Projects and a staging of Pet-Tastic, her fancy dress picnic for dogs, in Pittsburgh). Images from current exhibition: Shari Hatt: 'I Just want to be taken seriously as an artist' 'Pepe',From Dog Portraits,2008 'Kinko The Clown',From Clown Portraits, 2006 However both artists consider the running of Space Station 65 to have become almost a part of their practice. Jo explains that he isn’t quite sure what the relationship of his curatorial role to his own work is, but often an element of collaboration arises through it, either with the artists exhibiting or with visitors to the shows. Much of the gallery’s programme arises out of these connections, and most of the artists they work with are people they have known for some time. The current show, 'I just want to be taken seriously as an artist... etc', by Canadian artist Shari Hatt arose out of a connection of several years and features portraits and videos of clowns passing comic comment on 'being an artist'. Images from current exhibition Shari Hatt: 'I Just want to be taken seriously as an artist'. 'Elmo', From Black Dog Portraits,2008 Video Still, 'The Studio Visit', 2011 The gallery turns ten this summer, and to celebrate they’re inviting artists they’ve worked with over the past decade to collaborate in a group show titled No Now!. On the opening night (the precise date of which is still to be confirmed), everyone is invited to bring an artwork along to add to the show. And finally that name, how did they end up as Space Station 65? They explain they were looking for something that reflected a spirit of adventure and utopia, and had an element of humour to it (something they believe is far too often overlooked and dismissed within fine art). Ultimately though, they’re both huge sci-fi geeks. Adam Walker www.adamwalkerart.co.uk Images: ©2012 Shari Hatt. All rights reserved. All images Copyright Space Station Sixty-Five and Shari Hatt
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