The future can wait is one of my favourite annual events.
Curated by Zavier Ellis and Simon Rumley, this year the exhibition was held at:
ART BERMONDSEY PROJECT SPACE 183-185 BERMONDSEY STREET
LONDON SE1 3UW
13 – 17.10.2015
I have added photographs I took from this particular show, but also extended with more images I have found from the artists’ website as a way of understanding more about their motivations and inspirations. Generally, the first image appears in The future can wait and subsequent images are ones that I am intrigued by.
I thought I would begin with Alexandra Berg’s graphite drawings. There were two in the exhibition and I have included another from her website, all of which can be viewed in full here.
I was interested to learn that her images are mainly sourced from the internet. She captures through drawing, all the nuances of the found photographic image, encompassing the physical texture of its previous lives and therefore its deterioration, but rendered with exactitude and ultimately with supreme perfection. The physicality of the artwork appears soft and gentle, concealing any specific mark making or stroke of the pencil. They are instead diffused and almost blurry. I am of course left to wonder about the individual narratives and personal history of the figures, to question the time and place and the reason why these photographs were taken.
‘Double Enstasis’, 2015. Pencil on Paper Alexandra Berg
‘Sameness’, 2015. Pencil on Paper with Collage
I move on to the artist Andrew Salgado, with his oil and pastel on canvas, entitled ‘for you.’ His work seems fast paced and expressive, sort of like punky/street art, as I could imagine coming across his paintings on a dirty wall in a city. The backgrounds in other examples, remind me more of torn and layered paste ups. Sometimes the canvas looks stained as the oil seeps out on to unprimed canvas. The marks are like shards of sliced up sweets, with candy floss pinks and baby blues. The overall compositions have elements of colourful textiles, reminiscent of Odilon Redon’s blended abstract shapes and a softer, gentler fauvism with an illustrative/graphic undertone.
Here is an example from his website which you can view here.
Next up is an installation by Beatrice Haines, of clay impressions from shrapnel holes.
In the past, Beatrice Haines had undertook in a residency at Marlborough college, where she documented the graffiti underneath school writing desks, which in a way echos the piece above; by enhancing random traces of events from history and preserving them. Another similar artwork, ‘when you swallow, it wraps around your heart‘ appears to be casts in bronze of chewing gum globules.
I believe she took a residency working with forensics and grew interested in the scientific methods used to solve crimes. However, she re-appropriates these materials to create beautiful, and unexpected art works.
The artworks above and below is by the artist Zhu Tian. The installation above is entitled, A partner, a half lover, another half lover. When I was walking around the exhibition, I had not noticed the title of this piece and so now I study the work with this in mind, it does somewhat sexualise it, as if the tubing eludes to a love triangle; Where ‘desire’ is fed into each physical shell and creates a reaction, depicted by coloured light, so the ‘physical’ becomes a mental process or an electical pulse. They kind of remind me of a balloon and a pig, or a dismembered torso, although I did not find it unsettling, which is often how her work is described. Perhaps the lighting from within the polyester resin made the pieces aesthetically pleasing to behold. To find out more, I had a look on the Catlin Prize 2014 page, as she had won that year.
Quoted from the Catlin website below.
Zhu Tian (RCA, MA Sculpture)
Q: I’ve heard you describe your work as a ‘hiccup’. What do you mean by that?
A: It means my work is an interruption: something to disturb the automated behaviour of robotic individuals. I’m always attempting to interrupt spectators’ life routines. I want to shift their attention and rupture their ideological habits. Part of that motivation is derived from my general frustration with how modern society is far too explicitly categorised.
The image below is a photo from her film, entitled cling to a curator, where she is bound to two male figures with some kind of plastic wrap which is shiny and black in colour. I did find unsettling, as the plastic caused each person to sweat profusely. They were bound so tightly together it became claustrophobic to watch, but their expressions remained completely neutral and patient. They were also wrapped into the space so only their heads appeared, and it reminded me of a mixture of being submerged in oil and when old T.Vs were not tuned in properly, as the plastic material glittered and shimmered in the light. Finally, the figures were unwrapped and so the heavily damp patches upon their clothing acted as evidence for the uncomfortable situation they had been in. To be wrapped to a curator, is an interesting idea; where their bodily functions can not be controlled and the intimacy of such close contact makes me question the usual relationship of curator and artist. An art object is usually at least one step removed from the physical body of the artist, and is a separate entity, such as painting or sculpture. Here, there is no separation but a merging and combing of artist as an artefact and in addition the curator also becomes the artwork, no longer free to curate and restricted entirely.
A sugar lift etching by Oliver McConnie, entitled Requiescat in Pace, green and Pleasant Land. McConnie’s work reminded me of the spirituality of William Blake, the ghoulishness of Goya and of Bruegal, capturing the peasants of the 1500s. I find out that he wants to make the grotesque humorous, by portraying carnivalesque compositions and so yes, I think Bruegal’s depiction of humans being foolish or in his recreations of allegories could also be applied to McConnie’s imagery. However, the latter work is either much more fragmented and ambiguous, or stylised and symbolic, almost masking and concealing the darker side of things so that the impact is not as severe and therefore lighter in tone.
His blog: https://olivermcconnie.wordpress.com/
The above oil on panel artwork is by the artist Matthew Gibson and is entitled Desktop. Looking at other examples from Gibson’s website, I see the Escheresque, but more muted and gloomy spaces, painted with the loneliness and expansiveness of what may come after Hopper dusks. Within the artworks, artefacts and architecture are repeated with unsettling conformity. There are sometimes figures, but often, there is an absence of life and so the ‘system’ has overwhelmed or pushed aside the more humanising and therefore more personal and intimate side of these spaces. The result appears cold and clinical, a dictatorship, or a scene from 1984. The chilling title of the work below, is called checkpoint.
Lisa Wright’s Biting on a button, next to Eliza Bennett’s sculpture, made from Walnut, jelutong, leather thread, tacks and wadding resting on the floor, entitled Le Grande Bourgeois.
I discovered that Lisa Wright uses her family as models, but the time period she evokes of her most recent work seems set in the past, such as a Velezquez lady in waiting or courtier as opposed to a contemporary figure. There is a also a sense of the dreaminess of Pre Raphaelite but without the sentimentality.
Her website http://lisawrightartist.co.uk/
Eliza Bennett stitches the human body, both literally and symbolically. The sewing into her own hands is the most shocking and controversial. Her taught sculptures equally stitch into skin, but the canvas is instead leather and has been processed to form a material as opposed to the raw state of human flesh.
what has she done
Skin and flesh are definitely a preoccupation for Bennett. The works seem to explore the idea of protection and vulnerability, concealment and exposure. The wearing of clothes, creates an expression of the personality of an individual. The skin, the physical and naked form, is more ambiguous, so is Bennett grappling with how she can give a sense of the individual through flesh alone? In her sculptures, the ‘outer garments’ are literally pinned down, seeming unbreathable, melded and taught upon the contours of the physical body so that there is no separation. In her photographic work, instead of clothing stitched to fit loosely the contours of the body, her stitching of hands penetrates the contours and creases, so there is not let- up, no reprieve.
Kate Lyddon’s sculptures are immediately comical, structurally they take me back to a piece of Chris Offili’s elephant dung and his preoccupations with embellishment. Lyddon seems to embellish or disrupt through the use of expanding foam and lurid colours. The foam is indeed tricky to control and this ‘intentionally’ messy quality also reminds me of a Franz West sculpture. The work is definitely playful and carefree, ridiculous and phallic.
Bella Easton had these three paintings in the exhibition.
Entitled Congregation, the paintings did look like audiences in a theatre, illuminated with dramatic lighting, except the figures are sculptural, unidentifiable, geometric forms. Looking at her other work, these bright circles of ‘lights’ against a night-time diorama, become abstracted due to the intensity of pairing these two contrasts together. The work has a spiritual sense, cathedral like, becoming a place of worship and a place of marvel.
The scene below is of the urban city, intricate and overwhelming; the architecture fills much of the composition and the skyline is cropped out, so that you feel fully immersed in the experience.
Her work is simply quite gorgeous, romantic and heavy with atmosphere. Realism and abstraction hover perilously so that what you understand for a moment, quickly melts away into a sea of beautiful light.
Ben Spiers work is incredibly slick with its tight and sharp edges and perfectly blended gradients of tone. It reminded me of Yves Tanguy’s surrealist work using clearly defined sculptural contours and shadows. These two images to me are paintings about sculptures that could actually exist.
He seems to fuse together past traditions and styles of artists to make new artworks, but it is so closely connected to the past, it feels that the sculpture he has painted is an accurate study of someone else’s artwork, such as a Picasso or a Moore.
I’ve copied a statement from the James Hyman Fine Art Gallery that Spiers has created to describe his motivations.
For me art is about one’s immersion in culture. There is a choice about the nature of this immersion, about how one responds to precedents and propositions. So much is compelling that it’s limiting to be aligned to a single current. I want to extract what’s useful to me. So it’s a combined vision. This collaging of elements is, for me, the point of creativity. I seek to bring together, seamlessly, different philosophical as well as visual traditions to create something new exploring the rupture between inner experience and outer representation. I love the idea that I can take a body that is absolutely burdened by a kind of overwhelming corporeality and yet simultaneously invest it with an empathic, complex, perhaps even beautiful inner life. Ben Spiers, interview, December 2010
Dale Lewis’ painting in the front Gallery space at The Future can wait.
Finally, I have added two images not in the exhibition, by Dale Lewis. A Lowry/ Grayson Perry mash up? of street scenes, the city and of class? Violence appears to be made comical by the elongated cartoon like limbs. Is this a civilised society allowed to go to seed and why has it happened? If the figures were wearing war regalia then this scene would not be comical and would make more sense. So it is a way of exposing the nonsensical acts of violence that occur so readily in our world, but often we do not notice, or we choose not to notice. The image above, is this some kind of orgy, or a night club gone wild? The paintings are like a contemporary Garden of Earthly delights, but without heaven and only hell where people do terrible things to one another.