the not photography show at the arts club

13 November 2012 § Leave a comment

Firstly I must apologise for featuring a show not open to the general public. The Arts Club in this case is the slick version in Dover Street frequented by Fund Managers by day and the beautiful people by night rather than the rather more bohemian version more often frequented by real artists over in Chelsea.

The club has an impressive permanent collection of art that ‘highlights international trends’ and includes for example George Condo, John Stezaker, Thomas Saraceno and John Baldessari. It also features rotating exhibitions – the current incarnation being ‘The Not Photography Show’. this cleverly highlights a noticeable recent trend (without being able to call it a movement) of photographic works where the act of taking photographs themselves is actually absent or irrelevant.

This sort of work is not new of course, nearly a hundred years ago Man Ray‘s placed items on photosensitive paper to create Rayographs for example, but artists are becoming more adventurous. Mariah Robertson, a New York based artist, welcomes accidents. She includes solarizations and photograms in the Man Ray mode, irregular chemical reactions, negative collage, games with filters and much more before either hacking up the results into irregular slices or not cutting them at all and hanging vast swathes across the gallery. Having been nominated for the Deutsche Borse prize next year – and a good bet to win – she is definitely going places. At the time of writing High House Gallery incidentally currently has one work available.

In a variation of Robertson’s aggressive treatment of unexposed photographic paper Raphael Hefti burns lycopodium spores whose tiny ‘explosions’ distinctively mark the paper.

Maurizio Anzeri stitches patterns across found photographs to create surrealistic psychological portraits (very similar to Julie Cockburn who has work at High House and incidentally soon opens a new show at The Photographers Gallery).

A series of portraits by Aneta Grzeszykowska doesn’t look exceptional until you realise that they are not actual people but faces made entirely in photoshop. To what extent do we give these imaginary faces a real biography?

Also featuring in this rather neat small exhibition are Wolfgang Tillmans, here with random exposures made by light fibres, Marcus Amm and Eileen Quinlan. If you are looking to expand a collection you would certainly be wise to take careful note of all the artists featured here.

Meanwhile if any of this tempts you to join this excellent club visit their website here.

Exhibition curated by Amelie von Wedel and Pernilla Holmes runs until 2 December 2012

newspeak 2 at saatchi – who do the critics love?

3 December 2010 § 2 Comments

Jonathan Wateridge Jungle

Following on from a similar look at the Saatchi Gallery’s Newspeak Part 1, here is an overview of the critics verdicts on the artists featured in Part 2 – both positive and otherwise. Sadly analysis fairly limited in scope due to relative absence of critical reviews of the show. The favourites are at the top of the list, the clunkers at the bottom, with about twenty artists ignored entirely.

Dick Evans has produced a dark brooding wave of black silicon carbide, reminiscent of Hokusai’s Great Wave off Kanagawa. Toss in a crushed can and some fag ends and it has an undeniably ‘dark brooding aura’ loved by Metro and the Mirror. The Telegraph use it as their leading image.

Maurizio Anzeri embroiders and partially obscures vintage photographs. The result is ‘arresting and unsettling’ (Metro) and ‘exotic, mysterious and disturbing’ (Mirror).

Anna Barriball aims to provoke mystery in the familiar. She succeeds. A wardrobe is covered in black tape – it becomes a memory or void. A door is covered with tracing paper, repeatedly rubbed ‘broods with an ominous glamour.‘ (Independent).

Anthea Hamilton’s assemblages extract the cubist elements from imaginary works to reveal them in their 3D strangeness. They work quite well and the Independent loved them, the Telegraph illustrated them.

Idris Khan’ s photographs overlay multiple images such as Becher’s iconic water towers to create impressionistic prints ‘amazing in their depth’ (Mirror). Delicate images have been created from soulless objects.

Anne Hardy photographs fictional scenes carefully built from scratch. Littered with ephemera they create an elaborate narrative of events, place and time. Mysterious and captivating, I agree with the Mirror’s approval.

Toby Ziegler ‘remakes a Seurat landscape … for the computer age’ (Telegraph). His geometric landscapes, devoid of humanity feature star-shaped leaves fall from pixelated trees. Every Saatchi visitor stopped, stared and photographed. Genuinely eye-catching.

Tessa Farmer in Swarm has created a glass case full of insects, which on closer inspection are ‘elaborately constructed fairies battling garden insects’  which the Mirror wonders are just bits of craft  that has not yet reached the guft shop. Rather cruel – especially as it was chosen as the articles leading image. One up to Tessa I would say!

Jonathan Wateridge’s oversized canvases of plane wrecks, Sandinistas and astronauts play on the accuracy of traditional paintings whilst adding contemporary elements, somewhat as Ged Quinn, but were criticised by the Mirror for ‘not going far enough.’ Their physical presence and easy interpretation will nevertheless make them popular with the public and no doubt we will see his work sell strongly at auction.

Alexander Hoda creates assemblages of junk which are covered in black latex to – well – to something. Unfortunately Hoda does not really seem to know himself – the artists comments in the Saatchi guide are a mish-mash of different ideas including (but not only) ‘exploring relationships, desires, and urges, to perceive them in different contexts rather than something that’s conditioned to be guilt-laden or perverted.’ Pardon? They left the Independent, and me, rather cold. Metro concurred as did the Mirror – at length!

Carla Busuttil gets the ‘wooden spoon’ for ‘total lack of talent’ from Brian Sewell at the Standard. It is hard to argue. The deliberate lack of draughtsmanship or painterly efforts do not seem to have any real aim or purpose other than to provoke.

There we go – all rather underwhelming. Let us now look eagerly forward to the British Art Show , currently at Nottingham until 9 January 2011 and from thence moving onward to Plymouth, Glasgow and London. Held every five years it hopes to be an overview of the development of British Art. Early reviews seem to be good – personally I am itching to see Christian Marclay’s The Clock, where some three thousand film clips featuring the time are collaged in a compelling 24 hour film.

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