6-24 BRITANNIA STREET T. 020.7841.9960

Tuesday, 20 November 2012–Saturday, 19 January 2013

There is a really exciting exhibition at the Gagosian Gallery in London, with a number of paintings on display by the artist Zeng Fanzhi. The paintings surprised me, as they seemed to be composed of multiple lines of woven paint, sometimes thick and carved into with fresh colour, splashed over or deeply layered on top of the large canvas’. I first saw a flyer depicting an Albrecht Dürer rabbit, advertising Fanzhi’s upcoming show and was interested by his approach to this iconic image.

Zeng Fanzhi- Gagosian website image

Zeng Fanzhi- Gagosian website image

Zeng Fanzhi- Gagosian website image

Zeng Fanzhi- Gagosian website image

9ff8d74d5a6bf1f771e8fdf6828216a5 My favourite artworks were the landscapes that looked like fire and brambles. They convinced me as representational and believable spaces, which quite readily disintegrated as I approached, into abstract marks and gestures.  Leaves were created with vibrant splashes of vivid green paint and highlights around branches were created by running black paint through yellow, whilst seemingly  still wet. There was a speed and looseness to the paintings, with chaotic layers and lurid flashes of colours,  all meshed in behind the black Pollock-esque scrub.

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Matt Roberts Arts, 25b Vyner St, London, E2 9DG

ALAS Summer Residency Exhibition 2012

28th June – 7th July 2012

 I visited the inaugural opening of ALAS  at Matt Roberts’ Gallery. This group show will become a twice yearly event on Vyner Street, happening in June and November. This is an exciting addition to  the  Matt Roberts Gallery annual  Salon exhibitions, consisting of a mixed media show, (painting, sculpture, installation and any 2-D media) as well as the two additional  salon prizes, which specialise in photography and video.

The salon shows and now ‘ALAS‘ are great platforms for contemporary artists to gain valuable exposure of the work and forge new links with other practitioners, galleries and art collectors in London. I spoke to Matt Roberts that evening about his idea behind the  current show. He seems to  have a real understanding and commitment in supporting artists  to  develop their career as successful practitioners.  I really liked his idea of getting artists to work collaboratively in the gallery environment prior to the exhibition, sharing and discussing their development to make a cohesive show. An artist tends to have an isolated lifestyle, so the making of ALAS was a return to the college atmosphere, where peer assessment could be implemented to support the making process, as opposed to merely commenting on finished work.  In addition, each Saturday, a talk or visit was arranged where artists would meet different organisations in the art world to gather contacts and advice.

“After five years of providing artists’ professional development support Matt Roberts has launched ALAS, as a means of sharing knowledge about ways in which artists can gain exhibition experience and exposure for their practice. The ALAS professional development residency consists of over 100 hours of lectures and one-to-one tuition from our team and guest lecturers over a five week period. Successful applicants will be asked to bring 1-2 works in progress which will be completed in our studio facilities and exhibited at the Matt Roberts Arts gallery spaces.”

Exhibiting artists are:

Catrine Bodum, David Chalkley, Hannah Futers, Caro Halford, Kirsty Harris, Karolina Magnusson-Murray, Susie Mendelsson, Hana Melley, Julia Miranda, Moorland Productions, Laurie Nouchka, Araba Ocran, Jane Oldfield, Charley Peters, Paul Stanley, Susanna Thornton, Ventiko, Jemma Watts, Sarah West

Here is a small selection of images from the group exhibition.

Paul Stanley
“Lying awake in my bed as a child I listened to the trains going by on the track that ran behind our street, hoping to make sense out of the white noise of a world that extended endlessly beyond my understanding.”

Paul Stanley
“Through my more recent ‘Pulling at Threads’ series I have been looking closely at how we develop relationships with the images that are personal to us; for example how we understand our own image captured at a point in time such as childhood.”

Jemma Watts “My current work is concerned with the psychogeography of cities, exploring the idea of the sacred and mystical in the modern world, and specifically urban environments. It seems to me that something that is shaped by the will of so many human minds over hundreds of years must have a higher significance.”

Jemma Watts

Black and white photo from the exhibition of Jemma Watts drawings on paper

Julia Miranda

Hannah Futers
My work flows between drawing, painting, photography and constructing sets. These all feed into one another, and are concerned with surface and texture, creating and documenting landscapes, and using time as a medium.

The image above shows a photo of a film by Hannah Futers, except you can not see anything. Her film was in an enclosed space at the entrance of the gallery. In reality, the film is so delicate and faint, you can barely make out  the footage of shimmering of light. I could not capture it properly to illustrate Hannah Futer’s work, but it was so interesting I wanted to mention it in more detail. A visitor was telling her friend about it, so I listened in. She had recorded the flickering colours of light, reflected on the shiny surface of a gallery floor. At first, the film was  abstract and unidentifiable, then a gallery visitor’s feet cross over the reflection. It was subtle, a sublime light, a trace of something, then reality hits you. It feels like the gallery visitor is breaking the silence or the beauty of the piece. It feels destructive and intrusive, except this recording is just an unintentional  by-product of an artwork. Futer’s work seems to play with the idea of authorship, capturing interest in the peripheral areas of an artwork, that the original artist has no control or claim over. Is it now hers for the taking?

An artwork by Kirsty Harris on small sanded down oak panel. The detail in phenomenal. She uses a 10x 0 brush to get  some of these lines, which I never knew existed! Her oil paintings are created using traditional miniature painting techniques and show a contemporary and comical take of paintings from history. They remain faceless, so that the work refers to compositional elements as opposed to making an identifiable portrait of someone. 

David Chalkley- a photo I took of his work in the gallery with  a visitor looking at it- seemingly impressed.

David Chalkley- Creating the piece for the ALAS show
“With this piece I am exploring how time acts upon objects. The objects were mass-produced from identical moulds but time has afforded them different histories. Only when viewing these items as a collection of individuals do the effects”

Araba Ocran- My work has evolved from an exploration of monumentalism. Monumental sculptures are traditionally permanent objects which denote a deed or a person worthy of record; a memorial, celebrated in sculpture and painting. 
My work aims to challenge this concept by my choice of sculptural medium and subject matter

Catrine Bodum- extract taken from her statement- In 2009, during her MA in London Catrine Bodum found her influence in the music of Steve Reich and the Poems of Robert Lax. Bodum felt that there was a dialogue in their work that she could continue into her own work. They worked as a springboard into new ways of building up her compositions. Catrine Bodum has since moved on from working directly in reference to their work.

This is a detail from Catrine Bodum’s work. The painting was made of two parts and this photo shows just the right hand side of the artwork.

Susie Mendelsson
Much of my work is motivated by an exploration of personal memories and the expression of psychological states of trauma and anxiety. Though the sources of my imagery are often autobiographical, my work communicates universal concerns and emotions, especially from a woman’s perspective.

Sarah West
I systematically scavenge the vast array of imagery within magazines and newspapers; consuming, analysing and reacting to chance shots of unpredictable subject and composition.

Detail from Sarah West’s painting.

I really enjoyed the exhibition and you could see that a good  friendship between the artists  had also been created at the opening event. The artists came from a wide range of backgrounds, ages, experiences and disciplines. The exhibition runs until the 7th July so go check it out. More info can be found here.





I made it to the RCA Show 2012 today, but only the Battersea site. It has changed a lot since I was at Howie Street. It’s much more glitzy and futuristic and has nice foyers and bigger spaces. I was definitely overwhelmed, excited and curious about the artwork on display.

The first artist I got struck by was Matthew Pagett

The two images above are explained here

On the left

KL14: million photograph of an unknown women reduced to a few pixels then repeated a million times -giclee print

On the right

KL15- Portrait drawing of a photograph of an unknown women whose face has been reduced to a few pixels then magnified under a microscope- graphite on paper

The texture of the print on the left was amazing. I could imagine there were tiny faces,  but it was so small it became this incredible surface of brown. When I got close the brown- ness hovered and resonated. I have added a large image so you can get a little of the sensation

I spent the longest time in a tent with some little birds flying around. I was scared to go in, but I am glad I did in the end. It looked very closed and uninviting from the outside, but inside it was really atmospheric and  cleverly done.

The first thing you notice are the living birds that fly away from a pile of seeds on the ground when you enter the tent.

Then I noticed the actual artwork, which was a film on a large flat screen monitor. It took time to engage with the story, as  there were so many other elements inside the tent, such as a structure made of books and a garment, and of course the birds, a glitter ball and the audience watching the film. Then gradually it begins to fit together. I had to watch the whole thing again.

It’s like ‘Made in Chelsea’ but on acid, where a nice young man is heading to a party and accidentally forgets to pay for some oil for his motor bicycle. He is tormented by a fellow student? who looks like someone from the mighty boosh who is some sort of evil magician who owns a petrol station. The film seems to be about alternative realities with a bizarre, non- sensical layer weaving into the everyday reality we expect and are used to.

The film was made by Peter Georgallou.

The film is shot really well and is engaging enough to capture my attention for over 40 minutes. I enjoyed it, especially when I was the only one in the tent, as I could appreciate the sensations of the environment.

Image taken at my visit to the RCA show

I watched 3 films by Alice Evans. The two I preferred were: a pub fight after someone put a lollipop in a beer, but it was in slow motion with operatic music, a love story based on a poem  by Walt Whitman,  ‘When I heard at the close of Day.’ The latter was poetically shot and made me want to go to a cottage like in the film.  It is hard to describe the film, so I have added links to her website where you can watch them yourself and also the link to this particular film below.


Walt Whitman.

“In the stillness, in the autumn moonbeams, his face was inclined toward me, And his arm lay lightly around my breast—and that night I was happy.”


There was a great film by Fatma Bucak, which made me laugh out loud.  “Blessed are you who come,” Conversation on the  Turkish- Armenian border.

A women dressed in black cracks two eggs in front a crowd of paid bystanders. They do not know what is going to happen, but they know they must stay still for 15 minutes. One person is particularly uncomfortable about the situation. The film captures the women handing out bread to the crowd and walking amongst them while their personal chats are recorded and used in the subtitles, such as discussing where the film will be shown, the qualities of different societies etc.

Here are a few shots of some of the exhibits at the RCA. There was so much to look at, I have only selected a few.

 Tracy H. Girdler…

Tracy Girdler is from a grand lineage of artists, such as her great-great  grandfather who began Crayola to help young children master drawing in colour. As part of her development as an artist, she studied art in Washington, USA and also worked as an intern at Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts. She draws upon her eclectic experiences from different cultures,  first beginning during her family’s frequent moves around the globe, whilst she was growing up.


The work itself is  abstract, with suggestions of figurative elements. The painterly surface is textures with sgraffito techniques, thick paint, staining and overlaying of transparent and opaque colours. The ideas behind her compositions seem to be about the physicality of paint and surface and an organic development of colour, tone and texture. Inspiration is taken from many sources and instigates the painting rather than controls the outcome.

Tracy H. Girdler

“They are not pictures or representations of any specific thing, but rather products of my vision, which I hope you will come to share. I want you to see what you find yourself, not what you are told to expect. When I paint, I often surprise myself with where I come out, but there is always a personal vision underlying the work. This does not conform to any particular rule or teaching, but rather springs from the creative urge.”

Her work appears  ‘textile-like’ in the sense that the  layers of colour remind me of  weaving and also there is  a scattered  and  fragmented pespective, with some works appearing like ariel images. There is also an energy and playful quality to the marks she makes, with rapid circles and lines.

Tracy H. Girdler “The process of creating a painting is in my case often a messy one: I may variously paint, let it dry, scrape some off, paint again, paint over, and use my fingers– whatever seems to be wanted.”

Some work has a touch of Rothko to it. Perhaps this association came to mind, when I read she  had work on display at the Four Seasons Hotel Lobby In Boston, evident in the he defused bands of colour that  cross the compositions.


Girdler seems an unpretentious artist, where she is keen to create artworks that respond to a the client’s space and where work can be hung to the client’s taste.  For example, Girdler has an interesting take on commission based work, where she will visit the environment first, to get a feel of how the artwork will relate to the surrounding space. I also like the fact that you can rotate the images on her website to view it from different angles and even after the work has been hung, it can later be rotated to see the work afresh.

Tracy H. Girdler

“The underlying vision may arise from my experience– African landscapes, Rome’s history-soaked downtown, California’s broad, open beaches, the edge and grit of New York City– or from some recess of my mind. Each work, however, retains its own mystery and visual challenge, leaving it to you the viewer to find meaning and emotion as you will.”



Signal Gallery, 32 Paul Street, London EC2A 4LB
Opening Times: Tues-Sat 12-6 pm, and by appointment
This exhibition has finished but it was good. I thought the best word to describe the exhibition is tasty, as it was full of riotous colour and texture, mediums and surfaces. The work spanned fine art to graphics, illustration to street art. This is a very cool gallery space with an fun appreciation of eclectic styles. I already have the next show in my diary.

About Signal GallerySignal Gallery was founded in 2007 with the primary aim to promote strong contemporary painting, with a particular emphasis on figurative work. We have developed an interest in all forms of artworks that meet these aims and have discovered a rich and fertile vein of creative talent in a number of creative areas.We now have a number of urban/street artists on our books as well as artists from more traditional art college, illustration and design backgrounds.For us at Signal, the primary focus for our exhibitions is to find artwork that we consider to be exciting and then have fun pushing the boundaries. As a young gallery we feel we can offer a valuable service by introducing our buyers to stimulating new artistic talent, as well as continuing to represent our more familiar established artists.


ANNA CAMNER- Dust, Dirt and Dingy Weeds

There is an amazing artist on display at Faggionato Fine Art Gallery. Her name is Anna Camner. She was born in 1977 in Stockholm, Sweden.The exhibition runs:

June 8 – July 5, 2012
Her website is:
where you can see more of her work.
I have taken a few shots and close ups from the exhibition. The art work is  small in size and is painted upon a black primed board.


Interview with Chris Agnew

I saw Chris’s work a while back at  an east end space  off Vyner Street called the Wayward Gallery. It was the 16th Feb 2011. I was intrigued by his  paintings barely visible from the dimly lit room. I decided I would like to find out more.

I was interested in your inspiration. Is it true that you make work from ancient stories in Chile, then create images which could describe these accounts?  Are the stories merely a starting point in order to give you some kind of direction of what to depict?


The story behind my current works is essentially used as an over-arching metaphor for what my practice as a whole is concerned with.

‘In 1996 a Canadian explorer located a 150-foot megalithic monument on Robinson Crusoe Island (formerly known as Más a Tierra), over 600km off the coast of Chile. This monument is believed to have been carved by the Ancient Mayan civilization and research has concluded that this designates the only vantage point in the Western hemisphere where one can witness both the transit of Venus across the Sun, and a total solar eclipse 160 days later on November 13th 2012, signalling the end of the Great Mayan Calendar which has popularly been interpreted as the end of the world as we know it.’

In July 2010 I was invited by the explorer to join him on an expedition out to the island to witness a partial solar eclipse from this monument in preparation for the final total solar eclipse occurring next year. The purpose of this project (and my practise) is to illustrate how we can locate and manipulate evidence that supports any theory regardless of its seeming infeasibility – even the end of the world.”

  My work forms an extension of Kierkegaard’s idea that belief is insufficient, we have to believe that we believe. I have always played with various slippages between fact and fiction – for example some of my earlier work was based around the various interpretations of the Titanic story.

The landscapes appear religious or tribal because of two things. They feature an upright stone which reminds me of ancient stone circles or totem poles and then they appear to be highlighted, by bright geometric patterns which reference a human presence or a human intervention.

The ‘tribal’ iconography that you saw in the works are based on Mayan carvings found on particular temples. The works ‘Syzygy I & II’ for example, feature a cross motif that can be found on temples built by the Mayan King Chan Balum – who is believed to have built the monument on Robinson Crusoe Island – and these crosses may also be clues that point towards the location of the island. A ‘syzygy’ is an alignment of three or more celestial bodies, for example a total solar eclipse.

 Are you interested in shifts in translation, such as verbal or historic, cultural or traditional into pure (unrelated) images or how it translates from culture to culture? How much of the original source is important to you?

  With regards to your question about the ‘shifts in translation’ and how much of the original source material is still important; naturally the original source is always important however in my practise it is by no means as important as what it produces, like when looking at a plant we rarely consider the seed from which it grew but instead only survey the slightly differing fruits that it yields.

 The paintings create strong contrasts, such as natural forms contrasting withloose mark making and also etched surfaces alongside  tight and raised edges of  bold colours. I wanted to ask more about this. Why you have nature confronting what appears to me as flooring, or wallpaper?

This point also relates to your question about the ‘natural’ elements being juxtaposed with the artificiality of the geometric tiling; every natural element and process is underlined by a pattern, a system through which it has come into existence and operates in relation to other elements it comes into contact with. The deciphering of these patterns – eg. the golden ratio – has been one of our main obsessions for thousands of years. The inclusion of the geometric areas beside the natural forms within the works points towards this relationship.

 Chris Agnew exhibited in the Jerwood Drawing Prize 2010

Chris Agnew’s website: http://www.chrisagnew.co.uk/