I made a visit to the Bow Arts studios in Bermondsey on Friday night in particular to see Clare Mitten’s work. I have added images of her art that were not at Bow Arts. Clare Mitten makes mechanical/electronic structures out of cardboard, paper and other exciting materials. Almost like a personalised 3-D printer, but made by hand and more colourful, Clare begins with reference to an actual device, yet allows the material choices to inform some of the decision making.
Quote from Christina Wredge
This ongoing series of work aims to analyse the workings of forms in relation to a plane. The forms, rocks chosen at random, are in a communicative relation to one another. Planes of colour evoke the sense of a particular space. The forms are dropped into this setting and begin to inhabit it. They have been “mis-en-scene”.
Henry Mullhall and Jean Philippe Dordolo share a space at Bow Arts.
DISCUSSION WTIH JEAN-PHILIPPE DORDOLO
I was really struck by the work in Jean-Philippe’s work.
Jean-Philippe Dordolo’s website.
I was really interested to find out more about Jean Philippe Dordolo and he kindly answered some of my questions.
Your art works are often made of 2-D and 3-D groupings. What is your starting point: a photo, or the 3-D material? How do you select additional elements to co-exist together?
My work never used to be like that. But the grouping of 2D and 3D slowly crept up in my work as I started to focus on different forms of narratives. I couldn’t tell you what comes first though as I do not follow any strict rule.
I like to make objects, experiment with techniques and material. I try to diversify my techniques in the studio, learn some new ones and distort them for another use. I want to materially challenge myself, and sometimes it also leads to materially challenge a subject matter.
A 2D image, particularly if selected from an existing visual archive (the internet is one of them, the pictures I take is another) all bear a certain form of symbolism. They are not the physical thing itself, but a representation of that thing. As such they have an underlying narrative to explore. The 2D image provide me with a context in which the 3D objects can fully assume their identity and express their relevance.
Are you looking for opposites, for one surface quality to accentuate another or is the narrative/dialogue more important, where one object will react with another to create meaning or reinforce meaning?
I guess I could say I’m looking for both, yet not always simultaneously. Again it does really depends on how things present themselves in the studio. I think my approach is as processed based as it can be conceptual. I need to keep makings object and experimenting with material as much as I need to think about where things are heading, how they do relate to the world around me, and what it means to the viewers.
Maybe what makes a successful piece of work in my case relies on how balanced the form/dialogue ratio operates. The works I find less successful are those in which the 2D image simply illustrates the 3D object (or vice versa) without there being any integration process which would result in a distinct homogenous piece of work.
I look back at Topographie einer ordentlichen Sitzung thinking it was helpful in figuring out where I was going with the 2D/3D combination but in hindsight I’m not quite happy with the work itself. It was a great exercise for me, but not a great piece of work as it relies on the material illustration of an image only. It does not create new meanings or narratives.
I think if I can materially reconcile aesthetics (what I think you might mean when talking about one surface quality?) with a narrative/dialogue, then things will be heading in the right direction. I can’t consider content alone, in the same way I cannot work only towards a certain form of aesthetics…. It’s a joined effort
Is it the reinterpretation of a 2-D image to a 3-D form? Is it about simplifying visual images?
It can be a reinterpretation but as I move forward in my practice, it becomes more and more about integrating the 2D to the 3D in order to create an alternative form of narrative altogether.
The simplification of visual images generally relies on the concept of abstraction. From the moment I use an image, a symbol, and edit it, there clearly is a bit of that going on. I’m trying to learn how and when to stop simplifying it, because I do not believe in abstraction as a pure stylistic form standing its ground. There is something too polite about that for me.
But going back to the topics I choose, this is lead by research and processes of association. When I started to work with marquetry, I could not consider the craft without its history and the way it was applied to furniture and decorative arts. I then started to work and research images alluding to that sort of era. I could not shake out Kubrick’s Barry Lyndon out of my head somehow.
The plaster and lollies work you found in my studio really reminded me of an explosion. I wanted to use it in that way rather than just as another abstract object. The idea of creating a narrative that was displaced, almost alien to the nature of the object itself, really appealed to me. Hence the use of that print from the Battle of Long Island.
I guess most of my recent work plays around the notion of historicism. The great thing about this is that it grants me a field of research with no limits. I guess I’m interested in mixing signals, proving there not one universal truth. In the same way my work relies on the careful intervention of many factors (in terms of aesthetics and narratives) whose combination decides of a particular outcome. Yet this outcome could be completely different if the context or use of parameters was different.
How important are the plinths in your work. They are not the usual white cube, but take on sculptural qualities of their own, often unprimed and rough. Is this to expose the textures of the materials, to elevate the status of MDF/ chipboard etc? Do you want some elements to show craftsmanship and others to be rough and ready?
I believe it takes some craftsmanship to get away with the rough and ready aesthetics of a work. I can see the difference between those who can and those who can’t. Look at Manfred Pernice for instance. He knows! I think it’s part of the experience of learning a technique until the medium is under control. Only then can one take some liberties and try to get away from the usual format of presentation of that medium, use the medium differently. Now I would not call myself a craftsman. I think my knowledge is too superficial for that present. But it’s definitely something I want to push so that I can break free from the tradition of a material or medium, develop a singular language.
Going back to the plinth finish for instance, the plinth’s function is to elevate. It’s forcing the singularity and sacred character of a particular item onto an audience. I’m not sure the plinth should always be painted because their purpose lays somewhere else. After all they have traditionally been made of carved stone. They sometimes have ornaments but most of the time a paint job would be turning the plinth into a neutral display tool for museum context. If I have to make a plinth, I prefer to register its history and monumentality: its readiness to elevate. I want it to become part of the work and to be potent, raw.
I really liked the plaster and lollipop sticks. Some of your work seems quite fast and quickly executed. It seems like you enjoy this quality to your work, it is humorous, non-monumental and instantly appealing. It reminded me a little of Franz West or Frank Bowlings drip paintings.
Thank you for the feedback. I guess there is worst than being compared to Franz West!
(Well just the lumpy plaster piece) Frank Bowling came to mind when I saw this.
And this, purely with the sense of things that should slide are halted or suspended.
Yes I tend to execute things rather ‘quickly’ once I set my mind to it. To be honest it does take me a lot of standing around looking at what I have done / am doing before I manage to take the work further. It’s part of trying to find that balance I referred to earlier. Knowing how to go about it, creating the narrative. Then when I get an idea, even though I’m never sure if will deliver, I set off to be as efficient about it as possible. I always remember that principle from ‘hagakure: the way of the samurai’ whereby a warrior should always set of to act on a decision within seven breaths after taking it. Ultimately an artist is a doer. And risk taking is mainly going with an intuition and acting on it wholeheartedly. If this can be seen in the work, I guess everything is not lost!
I very much worked like that with the lollies and plaster piece. It was quite instant. But a lot of the work was also to think about how to turn it into something more than this object, this material gesture that’s just pretty. I like to make my work quite quirky and appealing. But it’s even more important to create a context for it. If not the work only becomes a one liner.
From Frieze Issue 147 May 2012 “
The Curator’s Egg” by Eleanor Nairne
The more literal-minded opted for works that made direct reference to an egg: Jean-Philippe Dordolo’s Landscape Drawings (Sunset / Sunrise) (2011), in which two raw egg yolks quiver in the bottom-right and top-left corners of two framed boxes, was prominently displayed in the reception area beneath the orange glow of Dexter Sinister’s Neon for the Serving Library (2011).
Artworks that you create, such as the eggs to look like sunsets/sunrise has a ‘certain’ amount of temporality which defies permanence and monumental work?
Indeed. I’m not sure I realised all that until after I made the work. For a show which lasted a month, someone had to come everyday in the morning to lay an egg in each frame, and in the evening to clear off so that it doesn’t mark the surface to badly. Monumental task for a work which seems so simple. I was so impressed the gallery went for it and embraced the process.I’m not one to feel like I want my work to go to posterity. If it does, cool. But if it doesn’t that’s fine as well. Eternity is here only to satisfy the ego. The making is more important than the shelf live
Thank you Jean- Philippe for your in depth answers to my questions…
TO VIEW work at Bow Arts
FOR YOURSELF ……..
Open Studios Programme
We are open 11 until 6pm both Saturday and Sunday this weekend. More details can be found at :
There are many artists who have opened their studio and homes around the area of Dulwich. A map of all the houses can be downloaded from the Dulwich Open House Website.
Here are som close up shots.
Laura Letinsky- ILL FORM AND VOID FULL- 18 January – 7 April 2013
2nd exhibition- Perspectives on Collage showcases eight approaches to collage. I have selected images from the internet that each artist has made, not necessarily at this particular exhibition
Geraldo de Barros
18 January – 7 April 2013
In the recorded video interview in the last room at the Tate show, Daido Moriyama said he prefers his work to be displayed in a book, as opposed to hung on the wall. When visiting The Photographer’s Gallery, earlier this year, there was a room devoted to Japanese photobooks. Here below is one of the many books that you could purchase at the Tate. It is interesting how he compiles the books, with no particular order and no particular beginning. You could open the book in the middle and flick back and forth and this would be ok.
I went to many exhibitions yesterday; one last flurry before I started back to work after half term. I am just about to plan some lessons for tomorrow, but I must write first about La Petite Muerte as it is well worth a visit before it closes on 11th November.
The last show on my tour was located in a pub cellar off Kingsland Road, which is great as it is open 6-9pm – Thurs- Sunday, so you can get a beer at the bar too. The curator is an artist called Kirsty Harris, who I first encountered at Matt Robert’s Alas exhibition. Some of the 38 selected artists are contacts she gathered from the Alas residency, but many are artists she knows personally and admires.
The theme was to coincide with the Mexican Day of the Dead festival that happens in Mexico at the beginning of November. The artworks exhibited related to this festival “exploring contemporary notions of mortality, sex, rituals and icons.”
Where to start, as there was much to see with really interesting stories behind the exhibited artworks. Lets begin with a taxidermy piece by Ruth Bartlett; a tender scene of a sleeping squirrel curled upon a stack of walnuts, that would indeed offer sustenance during the coming winter months. The piece is arranged in such as way to conceal any brutality of the act of death itself, as the squirrel is of course not really sleeping and that this ‘squirrel utopia’ is indeed a fabrication. The artist seemed to have prepared the squirrel for the afterlife in a kind of respectful anti ‘burial’ ritual.
I guess this ‘sending off’ is what the artists in the show were dealing with. Mexicans celebrate their dead in a particular way, which involves a colourful and joyous ceremony and probably why it is so well-known throughout the world. Yet all cultures commemorate the dead with complex traditions and etiquettes, some of course more sombre than others and the exhibition alluded to many of these personal interpretations. Death is both a collective, shared experience which happens to everyone of us and also a very deeply personal and unique experience.
The diversity of artwork in La Petite Muerte, goes someway to illustrate these sensibilities, with artists focussing on the wider themes of rituals and belief structures. Artists explored the impact of death upon the individual by incorporating personal and touching memories; artworks attempted preservation and embodied concepts of renewal, absence and loss; all mixed up with equal measures of humour and melancholy, starkness and sensitivity.
Three artworks which explore the journey to the afterlife or the sensations of a near death experience which is sometimes described as a light at the end of the tunnel.
I would like to mention Caro Halford’s art work. I don’t think I have ever seen such a personal artwork in a gallery before. The piece includes a photograph of her father and an image of where some of his ashes were scattered. In the box below, his actual ashes are encased. This to me is a simple but powerfully poignant piece. I wondered where the photograph of the rocks were taken and what it meant to the artist and her father. A very thought-provoking tribute, remarking upon our personal associations with places and memory; how life and death can become mentally and physically connected to the environment.
The curator, Kirsty Harris, had included a small painted panel resting delicately on a ledge, depicting an image of a friend, 8 months pregnant. So as antithesis to death, there comes renewal and new life.
An acrylic reworking upon a Victorian cabinet card by Tom Butler. A calling card, or carte de visite was often left at an address, to say that a particular person had visited. The cabinet card was a larger version of this craze that was popular in the 1860 and 70s. This is a beautiful and delicate artwork and although the face has been obliterated, it has been painted with such care, the act is not a destructive one. This reminds me how through time, the individuality of the person diminishes; they become unexplained, unidentifiable and lost, belonging to no one.
A photograph which illustrates a carnage of body parts, threadbare soft toys, ‘Andy Goldsworthy gerbils’ or a pile of ginger root, by Peter Ainsworth.
Hugh Mendes meticulous transcription from a newspaper, detailing the death of a dear,yet unattractive comrade.
A phone sim card sculpture by Paul Stanley, entitled ‘every text she ever sent to me‘ and cast in a resin block. This paradoxical attempt to arrest time, renders the sim card unusable and is therefore a futile and destructive act, but perhaps a necessary ritual to move forward, or it could be seen as a preservation of love?
La petite Muerte is a visually exciting exhibition, showing a diverse range of contemporary artworks. I wanted to write more and also about every artist, as this review only touches on a fraction of what is there, but my camera Raw plugin tutorial for tomorrow awaits. Go see before it is too late.
All artists exhibiting can be found here, with images and website links.