Category: guest articles

Rosalind Davis top tips on Surviving after Art School and maintaining a practice long term!

Rosalind Davis top tips on Surviving after Art School and maintaining a practice long term!

Photo courtesy of David X Green

Be professional 
If you are offered an exhibition or opportunity galleries and curators will notice your professionalism, or lack of it! Remember the success of the exhibition is not wholly down to them. It is a collaboration. Being professional, engaged, present and enthusiastic is much more likely to advance your career and networks. You need to be organised and meet deadlines and then nurture these relationships. It is really important to also say thank you and be appreciative to anyone who works on the exhibitions from the front of house to the Director.

Nurture Relationships 
Keep in touch with fellow artists and your tutors an anyone who has ever exhibited your work. Support others in the art world by attending their events and identify new mentors in your field of interest. Be proactive in creating a critical peer network. Nurture these relationships, be generous and it will reward you intellectually, creatively and inevitably create opportunities.

Build your confidence 
You need to be articulate and engaging when promoting your work. This can take a bit of practice and confidence which can take time but spend time on this too. Take part in networking events. Make sure you get feedback into your work where you can and understand what others read from your work.

 

Build your profile and Network!
Online networks are also hugely important to connect with new networks; curators, galleries, press and most importantly other artists.

How you get opportunities:

  • Research
  • Networking (online & offline)
  • Building Relationships
  • Promotion
  • Seizing / creating opportunities
  • Word of mouth
  • Being creative about space.
  • Being organised and professional
  • Being present and memorable
  • Being kind and polite!

 

Create a mailing list from visitors books at your exhibitions/ online mailing list sign ups and then send out invitations to your subsequent exhibitions. People in the arts want to know you are active, progressing, dedicated and professional. You’re unlikely to get interest in your work if you don’t tell people about it! Also ensure you give people enough notice about your exhibitions, telling people about it on the day or night before is unprofessional.

 

Have all these things ready and use them for marketing:

  • Website
  • Business cards & postcards
  • Newsletters
  • Social Media

 

  • Do not spam anyone or cold call with your work. It does more damage than good and will build you the wrong kind of reputation.
  • Spend time on marketing and your artists statement – both are more important than you might think. Marketing is not just for someone else to do for you, it should also be seen as a collaboration to promote the projects you are involved in. An artist’s statement can be a deal breaker on whether you might be selected for an opportunity. Spend time on these things!

 

When you get an opportunity consider all the possibilities that opportunity brings (and be proactive in making them happen!)

  • Creating / realising new work
  • Introducing new audiences to your work – who do you want to invite?
  • Expand your networks, from the artists in the show as well as curator, gallerist etc
  • Collaborate
  • Build your professional reputation
  • To get other exhibition opportunities
  • To learn
  • To teach
  • To inspire

 

Occasionally if you are lucky you might also sell work. This is really the one area you have no real control over so it is really important to focus on these other aspects in order to realise how much you can accomplish and can achieve. After every opportunity reflect on this.

Rosalind Davis and Justin Hibbs – Border Controls


Rosalind Davis

Artist, Curator at Collyer Bristow Gallery, Teacher and Writer.
www.rosalinddavis.co.uk

www.collyerbristow.com/gallery
Twitter: @rosalinddavis  | Instagram: @rosalindnldavis


What They Didnt Teach You in Art School.

‘Essential Reading for Artists’ The Observer.
Further info here.

 


‘Commixture’ at The Koppel Project – Hector Campbell’s Top Five

Commixture at The Koppel Project

Curated by Sally Gorham.

 

The Koppel Project in Central London plays host to Commixture, curated by Sally Gorham, a group exhibition that presents a snapshot of the current London emerging art scene through the lens of materiality and a diversity of mediums and methods. Each of the exhibited artists display continued exploration and experimentation within their practice, particularly in the context of their experience of media, material and physical making. The variety on show in Commixture highlights the innumerous ways in which artists approach creating, and how these approaches alter and change in relation to their navigation of the contemporary art world. The careful curation of Sally Gorham guides the audience through the exhibition, creating dialogues between not only the individual artworks but also the many disparate mediums and movements they encompass.

 

If you can’t make it to the exhibition, which runs until July 13th, here is a rundown of my top five artists with work on display in ‘Commixture’, (in no particular order).

 

ByHector Campbell

 

Nathaniel Faulkner

commixture

Nathaniel Faulkner, Maze Painting, MDF, spray paint, flock, 2019

 

Nathaniel graduated with a BA (Hons) in Fine Art from Central Saint Martins, UAL (London), having previously completed his Foundation in Art and Design at Bath College.

Nataniel’s work regularly references popular culture, cinematic history and invented architecture, and in Maza Painting he turns his attention to Stanley Kubricks 1980 masterpiece The Shining by reinterpreting The Overlook Hotel’s arhitectural maze model as a sculptural relief. Painstakingly crafted from MDF, the work could easily be interpreted as a work of pure geometric abstraction for those uninitiated with Kubrick’s adaptation of the Stephen King classic, the addition of green flock however another nod to the creative process used in architectural and landscape model building.

Nathaniel’s work has featured in group exhibitions at Subsidiary Projects, London (‘Extended Call pt.3’, curated by Billy Frazer, 2018) Yamamoto Keiko Rochaix Gallery, London (‘Megalopolis’, 2017) and with Kristian Day (‘arc.’ at Herrick Gallery, London, 2018). Recent duo exhibitions included 2019’s ‘Italian For Beginners’ with Joe Richardson at Apthorp Gallery, London, and ‘showerthoughts’ with Gillies Adamson Semple at San Mei Gallery, London.

Website/Instagram

 

Elliot Jack Stew

commixture

Elliot Jack Stew, Hand Job I, Oil on canvas, 2019

 

Elliot recently graduated with a BA (Hons) in Fine Art from Central Saint Martins, UAL (London).

Elliot’s work explores the boundaries that exist between the public and the private, evidenced in this new ‘Hand Job’ series of works by the use of forced point of view, placing the audience in the position of the protagonist. Intimacy is again implied not only by the works tongue-in-cheek title but also the hand suggestive placing atop the assumed bed sheets. The depiction of hands as well as the works autobiographical context invokes the art historical tradition of ‘The Artist Hand’ and the ways in which artists try to hide, or in Elliot’s case embrace, their mark making.

Elliot had his debut UK solo exhibition earlier this year at Cass Art, London (‘Poster Boy’), and has featured in 2018’s East Wing Biennial (‘SURGE’) at The Courtauld, London. Elliot is also the co-founder of the ‘Collective Cuba Project’ residency programme in Havana, Cuba.

 Website/Instagram

 

Helen Waldburger

commixture

Helen Waldburger, Slippery Fingers, Watercolour, oil and oil pastel on cotton, 2019

 

Helen recently graduated with a BA (Hons) in Fine Art from Central Saint Martins, UAL (London), having previously completed her Diploma in Art and Design at Camberwell College of Arts.

Helen’s work combines memories, thoughts, dreams and feelings to create scenes that are neither fact nor fiction but incorporate aspects of both to create a rich visual narrative. This layered approach to narrative composition is mirrored in the artist’s use of cotton canvases, which through their translucence expose the wooden support beneath, allowing for the expansion and extension of the works’ surface.

Helen’s work has featured in group exhibitions at Leyden Gallery, London (‘Platform For Emerging Arts 21’, Feb/March 2019), Stour Space, London (‘Sketchy London’, Aug 2018) and the Rag Factory, London (‘Sacred Blue’, 2016 & ‘Mother Russia’, 2015)

Website/Instagram

 

 

Cybi Williams

commixture

Cybi Williams, Gyn, Oil on canvas, 2019

 

Cybi recently graduated with a BA (Hons) in Fine Art from Central Saint Martins, UAL (London).

 

Cybi’s practice exists at the intersection of digital and analogue, and questions their relationship while exploring ways to marry the two creatively. His new series of work started life as daily digital sketches, an ongoing creative routine that provides him with ample visual material from which he edits and selects images that will become larger works. ‘Gyn’ exists both as Cybi’s original digital rendering of the work, as well as this physical oil on canvas piece that retains all the hallmarks of its nascent digital beginnings, a trompe l’oeil for the technological age.

Cybi had his debut UK solo exhibition at BLANK 100, London (‘Cybi Williams’, Aug/Sept 2018), followed by ‘Mundane!’ at Roper Gallery, Bath in January of this year. He was also the winner of the 2018 Clyde & Co Art Award.

Website/Instagram

 

Rupert Whale

commixture

Rupert Whale, Remnant, Acrylic on canvas, 2019

 

Rupert recently graduated with an MA in Fine Art from Central Saint Martins, UAL (London), having previously completed his BA (Hons) at Middlesex University, London, and his Diploma in Art and Design at Exeter College of Art.

Taken from Rupert’s latest series ‘The Incomplete’, 2019’s ‘Remnant’ displays the artist’s mastery of, and experimentation with, many painterly techniques as he approaches abstraction as device to investigate mark making and question the limits of the picture plane. The pastoral colours recall traditional landscape painting whilst the diverse range of expressive lines and brushstrokes evoke digital composition and avant-garde art movements such as graffiti, punk and abstract expressionism.

Rupert’s recent solo exhibitions include ‘Critical Mass’ at Cloisters Temple, London (2018) and ‘Rupert Whale’ at The Stonespace Gallery, London (2018). Rupert’s work is featured in collections including the University of the Arts London Collection and the Tim Sayer Collection (bequeathed to The Hepworth Museum, Wakefield).

Website/Instagram

 

 

For more of Hector Campbell’s Top Fives

Drawing Biennial at The Drawing Room

Subversive Stitch at TJ Boulting


Radical Residency III at Unit 1 Gallery by Hector Campbell

My Top Five – ‘Radical Residency III’ at Unit 1 Gallery

 

Unit 1 Gallery and Workshop’s Radical residency returns for a third time following two success instalments last year, this time opening its doors to ten international artists, from the UK, France, Germany, South Korea and Switzerland. The month-long residency programme tackles the ever-pressing issue of studio costs in the capital by not only transforming the gallery into a large studio space but also a chance to exhibit during the resulting three-week-long group show.

By providing a communal space within with to work and develop their individual practices, a dialogue also arises among the residential artists, allowing for an artistic and creative exchange common at art schools but often lost as artists are forced apart by rising studio prices and a dearth of available spaces in general. Whilst this rich conversation no doubt contributes to each artist’s independent output, it also results in an exciting and cohesive group exhibition.

 

Unit 1 Gallery | Workshop founder and director Stacie McCormick states that “there are so many benefits to the artists working together in such an intense way, but the one that I did not anticipate, that seems to be the strongest, is the mutual respect and support”.

If you can’t make it to the exhibition, which runs until April 25th, here is a rundown of my top five artists with work on display in ‘Radical Residency III’, (in no particular order).

 

By Hector Campbell

Sooyoung Chung

radical residency iii

Sooyoung Chung, DYNAMIC SINGLE, 2019,  Acrylic on linen. Image Courtesy Unit 1 Gallery | Workshop

Sooyoung Chung recently graduated with an MA in painting from the Royal College of Art (London), having previously completed both a BFA and MFA from Ewha Womans University in her native Seoul, South Korea.

Sooyoung continues to document her daily life through her ‘Biographical Object’ series of paintings depicting individual everyday items, a process she began after moving to the UK from South Korea and finding herself having to buy and accrue the household items she’d previously taken for granted when living with her parents. Additions presented in the Unit 1 exhibition include a pencil sharpener, champagne flute, avocado and the instantly recognisable orange TFL ticket. Alongside the 18 small linen canvases, Sooyoung also exhibits one of her larger narrative works, in which she explores ideas of personal choice and taste by creating a portrait purely from the objects one surrounds oneself with.

Sooyoung’s work has featured in group exhibitions at the Royal Academy of Art (Royal Academy Summer Exhibition 2018, June/Aug 2018) and the Saatchi Gallery (The Auction Collective & Presenza’s ‘Abstract: Reality’, Dec 2018), she has an upcoming residency withElephant Labin June (Open Studios June 27th)

Website/Instagram

 

Hun Kyu Kim

radical residency iii

Hun Kyu Kim, Table no.1, 2019, Traditional pigment on silk. Image Courtesy Unit 1 Gallery | Workshop

 

Hun Kyu Kim recently graduated with an MA in painting from the Royal College of Art (London), where he received the 2017 Chadwell Award, having previously completed both a BA in Oriental Painting at the Seoul National University in South Korea.

Having adopted the traditional silk painting technique common in his native South Korea, Hun Kyu subverts the conventional art form by applying it to critique the current political situation of his home country. Anthropomorphised animals inhabit his allegorical paintings that reference anachronistic art history, folkloric fairy tales and polemic political commentary, creating dark, imagined vignettes where the conventionally cute creatures are rendered riotous and violent.

Hun Kyu had his debut UK solo exhibition at The approach in 2018 (‘Eight Universes and The Machine’), and has featured in group exhibitions at The Nunnery (‘Invitation to a Rave’, curated by Mark Titchner, July/Aug 2018) and HIX Art (‘Painting Now’, July/Sept 2018)

Website/Instagram

 

Lucille Uhlrich

radical residency iii

Lucille Uhlrich, it was about the brexit but maybe we can forget about it, 2019, Wood, cardboard, terracotta, superglue, string. Image Courtesy Unit 1 Gallery | Workshop

 

Lucille Uhlrich graduated with an MA in Fine Art the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts, Lyon, France having previously studied Modern Literature at the Université de Strasbourg. She also writes art criticism and essays for French publications and galleries.

Lucille’s miniature assemblages, crafted out of quotidian materials such as ceramics, cardboard and wood and held together with string and superglue, exist within a transient dreamlike domain where her symbols and structures imply language. The intricate constructions are delicately produced and carefully considered, with Lucille adding and subtracting elements until a satisfactory balance is found between not only the constituent materials but also the envisioned elucidation.

Lucille’s recent solo exhibitions include ‘Starting from Scratch’ at Néon (Lyon) in 2018, ‘Instant d’après gammes’ at Galerie Arnaud Deschin (Paris) in 2017 and ‘Le Grand Malentendu’ at CEEAC (Strasbourg) in 2014.

Website/Instagram

 

Jean-Baptiste Lagadec

radical residency iii

Jean-Baptiste Lagadec, Mother’s day / Ariane VII, 2019, Acrylic and ink on wood. Image Courtesy Unit 1 Gallery | Workshop

 

Jean Baptiste Lagadec received his BA in Fine Art from Central Saint Martins (London) in 2016, having previously studied at the Atelier de Sèvres (Paris).

 

Jean Baptiste weighs the importance of process against the resultant artwork within his paintings, seeking to make visually the intangible, technological codes that underpin and assemble digital images, a hangover from the artist’s previous life as a purely digital artist. He, therefore, sees his adoption of abstract painting as his primary artistic medium as a rebellion against the increasing proliferation of and reliance upon technology, and the threat that poses to intrinsically physical activities such as artmaking.

Jean-Baptiste had a solo presentation as part ofThe AIR Programat Youkobo Art Space, Tokyo in 2017, and his work recently featured in the group exhibition ‘We Are The Ones Vol. 1’ at Carlsberg Byens Galleri (Copenhagen, Sept 2017) curated by Jordy Kerwick, Galina Munroe and Simon Ganshorn.

Instagram

 

Henry Tyrrell

radical residency iii

Henry Tyrrell, Dubrovnik, 2019, Acrylic on linen. Image Courtesy Unit 1 Gallery | Workshop

 

Henry Tyrrell recently graduated with an MA in Painting from the Slade School of Fine Art (London), having previously completed his Ba in Fine Art at the Chelsea College of Art (London).

Within his acrylic on linen works Henry plays with colour, tone and form as ambiguous forms emerge within the shadowed canvas in various shades of grey, reminiscent of the frustration at a foggy memory or the annoying attempts to recall a dream. As well as walking a tonal fine line throughout his examination of grey, Henry also approaches the margin between abstraction and representation, as the shapes and symbols are left for the audience to offer an interpretation.

Henry’s work has featured in group exhibitions at the Cello Factory (‘Defining Structure’, Sept/Oct 2018), the OXO Tower Wharf (‘Orbit UK Art Graduate Show’, Aug 2018) and Chalton Gallery (‘The Politics of Too Many Rubbish Dinner Parties’, May/June 2017). His debut solo exhibition ‘Purkinje Flying’ was at GlaxoSmithKline, Brentford in 2014.

Website/Instagram

 

For more by Hector

Drawing Biennial 2019 at Drawing Room

Subversive Stitch at TJ Boulting

 


Insights into Curating with Rosalind Davis.

Insights Into Curating.

“I see exhibitions as a result of dialogues, where the curator functions in the ideal case as a Catalyst.”  Hans Ulrich Obrist

 

There is a great deal of curiosity about the job of a curator, most notably and understandably from artists; how do you curate? What kind of gallery do you work in? And then, there is always the question of how do I find artists for my exhibitions? So, I thought it would be useful to answer these questions and create a resource for people in the long term. Of course, all curators like artists are different but there are some universal truths.

 

I am an artist as well as a curator and have curated 30 exhibitions so far in my career. I was appointed the curator of Collyer Bristow Gallery in 2016;a very unique gallery in a law firm based in Holborn that was set up by partners of the firm25 years ago.  The focus of the gallery is to support artists through a dynamic gallery programme with a dedicated curator and space. Each show has between 15-25 artists and I curate 3 shows a year there, each usually spanning 4 months.

 

We have a focus towards supporting young career artists to help build their careers and profiles and so Exceptional is a graduate competition and award exhibition every 18 months. The winning artist in the exhibition receives a significant award of £2000 and, importantly being aware that competition fees can exclude artists from entering, ours is free to enter. In previous years we only allowed for artists to apply from three London art schools; Goldsmiths, Middlesex and City & Guilds of London Art School whereasthis year we will be expanding our competition to allow graduates who studied at any University in London apply.

It is a very exciting opportunity for artists and way for me to curate an exhibition focussing on these very promising and talented artists. In the other exhibitions throughout the year I support younger career artists through mixed group shows that showcases them alongside more established artists and helps build their profiles, cross fertilise networks and bring their work to new audiences as well as the opportunity to meet the other artists in the show. Collyer Bristow are also very engaged in the exhibitions and deservedly proud of the gallery. We have numerous events across the year for our many collective and different audiences including prominent arts organisations including the Contemporary Art Society, Government Art Collection, The Fine Art Group, The Mall Gallery Patrons and various other collector groups, curators, galleries, writers and artists.

insights into curating

Exceptional

How do you choose artists?

Apart from Exceptional, where the artists are chosen by a guest panel on their merits, the artists are chosen to fit within the particular themes of the show. To select the artist’s, I am always visiting lots of exhibitions (including Degree shows) research and collate lots of artist’s works. I have a very large library of artists and research on file. I also used to run an annual open competition before Exceptional as part of the arts organisation Zeitgeist Arts (which I co-directed) where I got to select and curate a huge range of artists work. I have gone onto work with a number of these artists again in other exhibitions. I have exhibited artists who were my teachers and students, artists recommended to me, artist’s I have exhibited with, artists whose careers I have been following and I am always looking! However, it can take years to place an artist’s work in an exhibition – for their work to fit in the right context. I have exhibited artists from their early 20’s to their mid 70’s, artists that have been to art school and artists are not formally trained – ultimately, it’s about the integrity, the ideas and processes of the work itself.  I am also keen to show unrepresented artists, as I am aware that exhibition opportunities can be limited.   Justin Hibbs (an artist, collaborator and partner) and I have lots of conversation about the exhibitions, coming up with ideas and thinking of artists to fit within the theme, as does Michaela Nettell, (who does all our design work for the exhibitions)  and other artists I know such as Sasha Bowles who I have also curated with in the past. They are all really engaged with the exhibitions and I am receptive to their thoughts.

One thing I don’t do (and I don’t know any curator or gallery who does) is ever choose artists who spam me or cold call – whether online or in person! For tips and ideas in how you might build a relationship with a curator or galleries can be found on a blog post I did for Hotel Elephant.

 

How do you come up with ideas for the Exhibitions?

The fact that the gallery is housed in a working and active law firm is a rich vein of inspiration for me. As an artist I am very sensitive about the context of a built space Collyer Bristow is a space full of narratives where resolutions are continually being worked towards, modified and resolved. My first exhibition at Collyer Bristow Gallery in 2016 was called Complicity. Artifice and Illusion.I curated the different meeting rooms thematically within the show that related to the law; such as extradition, mediation, copyright, divorce and dissolution, which was intended to be both playful and expansive given the galleries context. Often the titles are the starting point in my process, identifying the core themes or ideas of the show and then the works or artists who might fit within that context.

 

In the Futurewas an exhibition in 2018 inspired by David Byrne from a song written in 1985, that laid out propositions and prophesies about the future as he saw it then. The lyrics describe a future through a series of paradoxical statements that now seem strangely prescient in describing the complex reality where contradictory truths co-exist; such as the lyric; In the future there will be so much going on that no one will be able to keep track of it…. which all of us can now relate to.

 

Our current show Rules of Freedom, takes its starting point from history of how both women and men have been working to build a civil society that seeks to make the world freer, fairer and more progressive sincethe People’s Representation Act, enacted 100 years ago. Artworks in this show reference a broad range of subjects such as the civil rights movement, political freedoms, LGBTQ+ rights or freedom of movement, all of which are now under threat at this point in time. It is a show of Rule Breakers and Rule Makers, it’s title coming from an influential album by African American musician Nathan Davis, an avant-gardeJazz pioneerin the 1960’s who laid down through his music his own ‘Rules of Freedom’.

 

Re-Assembleis our next exhibition,that looks at ideas and processes of structure against the particularly precarious and fractured current political backdrop and previews on the 3 April, 6-9pm.

insights into curating

www.Rosalinddavis.co.uk  www.Collyerbristow.com/gallery

Twitter: @rosalinddavis |  Instagram: rosalindnldavis

 

For more about the art world

Paul Weiner –  Social Media and The Art World

Kate Mothes – The Internet As Vehicle


Drawing Biennial 2019 at Drawing Room – Top Five by Hector Campbell

Drawing Room’s annual ‘Drawing Biennial’ comprises both an exhibition and online auction of over 200 drawings produced by leading international artists spanning multiple generations. Featuring work by artists already recognised in the medium of drawing, as well as contributions from renowned sculptors and painters, the ‘Drawing Biennial’ promotes the importance of drawing within all areas of artistic creation and production.

Artists are invited to create an original drawing for the Biennial by Drawing Room directors Mary Doyle, Kate Macfarlane and Katharine Stout, alongside additional artist nominations from celebrated artists, museum directors, curators and collectors.

All drawings are then available to purchase via an online auction conducted during the final two weeks of the exhibition, each with a starting bid of just £300. The auction proceeds support the Drawing Room’s year-round programme of exhibitions, learning and publishing, as well as the expansion of its study library.

 

If you can’t make it to the exhibition, which runs until March 26th, here is a rundown of my top five artists with work on display in ‘Drawing Biennial 2019’, (in no particular order).

 

By Hector Campbell

 

Jessie Makinson

drawing biennial

Jessie Makinson, ‘Charm to Burn’, Ink and watercolour on paper, 2018

 

Jessie Makinson recently graduated from the Turps Banana Studio Program (London), having previously completed her BA in Painting and Drawing from Edinburgh College of Art as well as a Postgraduate Course at The Royal Drawing School (London).

Jessie’s works on paper are created by indiscriminately applying daubs and smears of ink and watercolour, which when dry form the basis of her emerging narratives. From the results of this process appear small anthropomorphised animals or fairytale figures, as shapes combine to form characters and costumes, rendered finally with the addition of the artists’ intricate line work. The randomization implicit the first stage of Jessie’s process allows for the narrative to only be found through the act of creation.

Jessie has work in an upcoming group exhibition, ‘No Patience For Monuments’, at Galerie Perrotin (Seoul) in April as well as an upcoming solo exhibition at Galería OMR(Mexico City), in June.

Website/Instagram

 

Marie Jacotey

 

drawing biennial

Marie Jacotey, ‘A Morning Amongst Millions’, Felt tip pen on paper, 2018

Marie Jacotey graduated with an MA in Printmaking from the Royal College of Art (London), having previously completed her a DNSAD at École Nationale Supérieure des Arts Décoratifs (Paris).

Marie’s drawings give the viewer a voyeuristic glimpse into the private, personal lives of her subjects, who are often depicted during moments of emotion, reflection or vulnerability.

Contrasted against the pervasion of social media in contemporary society, where people’s personal lives are stage-managed, fictionalised and made public, Marie’s drawings capture rare, candid episodes that offer a glimpse into actual, true intimacy.

Marie has work in the current group exhibition ‘Club Inaugural’ at Balloon Rouge Collective(Brussels) which runs until April 10th, and her recent solo exhibitions include ‘Goodbye Darkness’ at Ballon Rouge (Paris) in 2018 and ‘Morning Defeats’ at Hannah Barry Gallery (London) in 2017.

Website/Instagram

 

Gabriella Boyd

 

drawing biennial

Gabriella Boyd, ‘Balming’, Watercolour and oil on paper, 2018

Gabriella Boyd recently graduated with a Postgraduate Diploma in Fine Art from the Royal Academy Schools (London), having previously studied at Glasgow School of Art.

Gabriella’s paintings depict imagined human interactions charged at once with a sense of both hostility and affection, dreamlike scenarios rendered in a warm, rich palette of reds, yellows, pinks and browns. Figuration is stretched beyond our earthly understanding as her characters are depicted with their lungs exterior to their bodies, communication implied simply through physical touch. Gabriella’s narrative vignettes can, therefore, be assumed to exist within an otherworldly dimension, recognisable to viewers but with subtle, preternatural indicators.

Gabriella had her debut solo exhibition, ‘Help Yourself’, at Blain|Southern (London) in 2018, recent group exhibitions include ‘Dreamers Awake’ at White Cube Bermondsey (London, 2017), ‘The London Open’ at Whitechapel Gallery (London, 2018) and ‘So Everyone is Rich Now Apparently’ with Supplement/Arcadia Missa (New York, 2017).

Website/Instagram

 

Laurence Owen

drawing biennial

Laurence Owen, ‘Looting’, Watercolour on paper, 2018

 

Laurence Owen recently graduated with a Postgraduate Diploma in Fine Art from the Royal Academy Schools (London), having previously completed a BA in Fine Art Painting at Falmouth College of Art.

Inspired by traditions and artefacts related to Folklore, Paganism and Mythology, Laurence employs a conceptual understanding of sampling and source material to create his energetic yet architectural works. Building on his previous study and use of the word ‘loot’, meaning ‘to rob’, he comments on the undeniable influence and inspiration that comes from our current exaggerated exposure to content. The act of art-making and exhibiting is also sampled and remixed within Laurence’s work, as often unseen and unconsidered elements such as frames, hanging hooks and pins are brought to the forefront.

Laurence’s recent solo exhibitions include ‘Loot’ at Galerie PCP (Paris) in 2018, a solo presentation at VOLTA Art Fair 2018with Frestonian Gallery and ‘Channel Synthesis’ at Evelyn Yard Gallery (London) in 2016.

Website/Instagram

 

Nicholas Hatfull

drawing biennial

Nicholas Hatfull, ‘Three Studies for a Painting’, Pencil and gouache on paper, 2018

Nicholas Hatfull graduated with a Postgraduate Diploma in Fine Art from the Royal Academy Schools (London), having previously studied at the Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art.

Nicholas’s absurdist, surrealist still life works capture and comment on contemporary society through the depiction of quotidian, mundane objects. Maintaining a language of rich visual reference points, as disparate as the films of Yasujirō Ozu and the packaging used by fast-food chains, his playful compositions are comprised of recognisable and relatable motifs. Subtly anthropomorphized objects act as human stand-ins, imbued with their often associated emotions to create an empathetic narrative for the viewer.

Nicholas’s recent solo exhibitions include ‘Tofu Dealer (to kill my hunger in daytime wander)’ at Josh Lilley (London) in 2017 and ‘Tall Grass (Expert Pruning In Ethiopia)’ at Josh Lilley (London) in 2014.

Website/Instagram

 

 

For more by Hector Campbell, see his Top Five – Subversive Stitch ant TJ Boulting


Subversive Stitch at TJ Boulting – My Top Five by Hector Campbell.

‘Subversive Stitch’, taking its name from Art Historian and prominent feminist Rozsika Parker’s 1984 book and 1988 touring exhibition ‘The Subversive Stitch – Embroidery and the Making of the Feminine’, presents textile-based artworks across TJ Boultings two room space. Spanning the mediums of embroidery, weaving, tapestry, clothing and sculpture, ‘Subversive Stitch’ builds upon the rich history of the previously disregarded craft, considered a purely feminine and domesticated preoccupation until the twofold influence of  both the Arts and Craft movement and the Suffrage movement, of the late 19th and early 20th century respectively, co opted and subverted the medium, bringing it to the forefront of avant garde artistic practice. In contemporary art textile work retain that forward-thinking aesthetic, imbued with political, cultural and innovative touchstones usually associated with more traditional mediums.

 

If you can’t make it to the exhibition, which runs until March 23rd, here is a rundown of my top five artists with work on display in ‘Subversive Stitch’, (in no particular order).

 

By Hector Campbell

 

Bea Bonafini

 

subversive stitch

Bea Bonafini, ‘Shape-Shifting V’, Pastel on wool and nylon carpet inlay, 2018

 

Bea Bonafini recently graduated from the Royal College of Art with an MA in Painting, having previously completed her BFA from the Slade Schools of Fine Art.

Inspired by primitive cave paintings located on the Island of Levanzo, Sicily, her large collages are fashioned from carpet offcuts, subverting the traditional function of the quotidian material as it becomes a wall-mounted artwork. Considering herself “a kind of anthropologist”, in ‘Shape Shifting V’ Bea amalgamates both human and animal imagery to evoke the iconography of not only historical hunt paintings but also contemporary anthropomorphic animations.

Bea has upcoming solo exhibitions at Bosse and Baum, London in June and Chloe Salgado, Paris in September.

Website/Instagram

 

James Merry

 

subversive stitch

James Merry, ‘Nike/Jöklasóley’, Embroidered sweatshirt, 201

 

James Merry is an entirely self-taught artists, having previously studied Classical Greek at Oxford University. While originally from Gloucestershire, UK, since 2009 he has been living and working with the musician Björk in Iceland.

His painstaking practice of reappropriating and recycling vintage sportswear by embroidering intricate floral and fauna into the logos explores the often overlooked overlaps between man and machine, nature and nurture, urban and rural. Often associated with post-apocalyptic ideas of Mother Nature reclaiming the earth and correcting mans misgivings, in ‘Nike/Jöklasóley’ the iconic Nike tick logo has been infested with weeds and a large ‘Glacier Sunflower’ (Jöklasóley) frequently found in the scandinavian mountains.

James also exhibits an embroidered headpiece consisting of plastic, UV thread and pearl beads, a recreation of an original created for Björk’s 2016 photoshoot with Santiago Felipe for the Evening Standard.

Website/Instagram

 

Charlotte Edey

 

subversive stitch

Charlotte Edey, ‘Open Tapestry I’, Woven cotton tapestry with hand embroidery in cotton and metallic, 2018

 

Charlotte Edey completed a Foundation year at Chelsea School of Art in 2011, and has since worked as a freelance illustrator and fine artist, producing work for clients such as the New York Times, The Guardian, BBC News and Penguin Random House

Her embroidery works put a surreal twist on scale, architecture and landscape to explore ideas relating to identity and modern femininity. ‘Open Tapestry I’, produced as an edition of 5, contrasts intricate figurative details with large gradient circles of rich colour to identify the identity conflicts rife in contemporary society.

Charlotte also exhibits ‘Fresh Water’, an original miniature tapestry channelling the concepts underpinning the Greek myth of Narcissus to examine self awareness and introspection, as a delicate hand reaches down to touch, and is subsequently reflected in, a pool of water.

Website/Instagram

 

Amanda Ross-Ho

 

subversive stitch

Amanda Ross-Ho, ‘Untitled T-Shirt (WORLD MAP #2), Jersey, rib, thread, acrylic, 2015

 

Currently living and working in Los Angeles, Amanda Ross-Ho completed her BFA at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1998 and her MFA at the University of Southern California in 2006 and has since exhibited international.

Previously working full time as a textile designer, Amanda has parlayed those skills into her fine art practice, recently created a series of twelve large scale collaged assemblages of cartoon faces expressing, each expressing different emotions synonymous with popular digital emojis. Her ‘Untitled T-Shirt (WORLD MAP #2)’ humorous scales up an otherwise mundane paint covered white t-shirt to such as size as to overwhelm the viewer and bewilder their sense of proportion.

Amanda’s latest solo exhibition ‘HURTS WORST’, featuring the aforementioned emoji-eque embroideries, runs until March 17th at Kunsthall Stavanger, Norway.

Instagram

 

Hrafnhildur Arnardottir/Shoplifter

 

subversive stitch

Hrafnhildur Arnardottir/Shoplifter, Synthetic hair and mesh, ‘Sunny Smiley’, 2016

 

Icelandic artist Hrafnhildur Arnardottir, AKA Shoplifter, completed her BFA at the Icelandic College of Art and Crafts in 1993 and her MFA at the School of Visual Arts, New York, in 1996 and has since exhibited international.

Combining old-fashioned craft techniques with the unique texture and colour of synthetic hair fibres Shoplifter creates her playful sculptures and reliefs, that draw from genres such as folk art and naïvism. The instantly recognisable ‘smiley’ is a recurring icon in her work, and Shoplifter has recreated it in a number of sizes, colours and variates, choosing here to portray it in its familiar yellow and black colour scheme.

Her work is currently featured in the retrospective Nordic Impressions: Contemporary Art from Åland, Denmark, Finland, Greenland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden at Scandinavia House in New York, which runs until June 8th, and Shoplifter will represent Iceland in this years Venice Biennale.

Website

 

For more from Hector Campbell, see his top five of Interim Projects


Paul Weiner – Social Media and the Art World

Paul Weiner – Social Media And The Art World

What does the art world look like today for emerging artists online? Hectic. Exciting. Disturbing. Everyday, we learn digital ways to meet new people, digest the news, buy stuff, find a lover, drool over tasty food, and even consume visual art. I set out to interview my own Instagram audience of self-selecting online art consumers in hopes of finding some answers with about ​400 very opinionated respondents for each question. Their answers point to an art world that craves digital experiences and uses them to inform their real lives. ​Museumgoers toting selfie sticks and commercial galleries that play up their artists’ Instagram fame are just the tip of the iceberg with massive, structural art world shifts looming. Let’s talk about it.

paul weiner

Paul Weiner in his studio

The Emerging Art Audience Is Changing

Instagram is turning into a platform for visual art viewers similar to Spotify and iTunes for music lovers. A massive online viewership uses Instagram as a search engine to seek out visual artists who satisfy their tastes, and they really care about those artists. They also recognize the absurdity of staring at art encapsulated in a tiny, low resolution square. ​When I ran my polls, I found that 94% of my audience wants to see real exhibitions by the artists who they follow online, 79% see more art online than in person, and 57% think the art they find online is as important as what they see in person. With this online audience growing rapidly, massive image quality improvements on the horizon, and a digital native generation coming of age, a significant shift is in progress toward accepting the virtual as real.

How does this audience feel about the art world’s historical power centers? Another poll I ran found that 88% of my audience is unsatisfied with the media’s contemporary art coverage and only 9% care about an artist’s degree. Many respondents were discouraged by what they perceived as a top-down system that does not introduce enough new artists. On social media, by contrast, an almost unlimited number of artists are accessible at the tap of a finger. Unlike their ​Artforum ​reading forebears, the virtual public finds new artists through direct interactions without guidance from trusted art world gatekeepers. This audience looks for emerging artists who they can identify with or admire and raises them out of obscurity with little regard for prior media coverage, education, curatorial interest, or commercial success.

 

For the first time, artists stand to build larger audiences by connecting with the personal interests of each public viewer than by convincing the professional art class that they conform to elite preferences and biases. For better or worse, this means the roles are changing for the players that have historically vetted artists before they receive public attention: curators, critics, gallerists, and the donor class. The floodgates are open — sort of. A large audience does not predict an artist’s long term importance, and it has been proven time and time again that the public’s infatuations can be fleeting. The same kinds of art world players who have been in charge through much of the 20th century to the present still control the institutional settings where art is historically canonized. The levers of power at these institutions still rely on separate audiences of their own.

Over the next few decades, it will be exciting to watch and see if social media darling artists are able to harness public support while also convincing institutional circles that their work is imbued with an important message about the times that is worthy of being amplified and canonized. As of yet, social media success is not a fast track to institutional acceptance in the same way as a Yale MFA might be. Maybe a new generation of powerful art world figures who grow up in a digital native world will embrace social media’s impact.

Paul Weiner - Delphian Magazine

Infographic showing the findings from some of the polls undertaken for this study

Reimagining The Museum

The possibility that the museum itself will experience a virtual transformation is also worth watching.

Looking back at the 43% of my audience that is not convinced that art they find online is as important as art they see in real life, there is a lot of room for expansion. My polls also found that 35% of my audience is already convinced that the experience of seeing visual art online is equal to that of listening to music. The 65% who disagree might change their minds when they see the improvements coming soon to digital viewing. New extended reality (XR) headset devices satisfy cravings for greater image quality and physical experience. Take, for instance, the Magic Leap Onethat, according to its creators, can “superimpose 3D computer-generated imagery over real world objects.” In combination with social media, powerful devices like these will allow us to select paintings we find online and interact with them on the walls of the rooms we live in. Maybe our future museums will be superimposed on our own walls, where we can choose from millions of publicly available, virtually rendered artworks and travel through history as we gaze for as long as we want, wherever we want.

paul weiner - Delphian Magazine

Infographic showing the findings from some of the polls undertaken for this study

Social Media is Reshaping Artists

Artists are adjusting to showing their work in digital forums, often subconsciously. These adjustments are taboo to talk about, but they are visual signifiers for the way artists share the broad struggle humans face today to exist in the digital world. The push to put out more and more attractive photos can quickly turn authenticity off in favor of the kind of calculated pop-sexiness that pulls in mass audiences.

Many artists change the shapes of their works to fit in Instagram’s square or edit photos of their work extensively before posting them. Other artists are addicted to the attention they can receive on social media by making very decorative paintings or finding just the right angle for a studio shot loaded with tantalizing visual attractions. These concerns are a way of life that extends far outside the art world. Most of your neighbors have self-constructed identities curated for internet appearances.

At the same time, the incredible wealth of visual information available to artists who spend time on social media everyday would have been unthinkable just a decade ago. Searching through popular art hashtags or following new artists brings us into new aesthetic worlds ripe for great cultural exchanges. At all hours of the day, artists from New York and Los Angeles are not only communicating with their peers in small cities in flyover states but also with artists in London, Sydney, Berlin, Dubai, Lagos, or Hong Kong.

I find myself making artwork that embodies this simultaneously disturbing and electrifying digital experience through my abstract paintings that are self-aware social media objects and often site-specific to Instagram. While these works physically exist in my studio or an exhibition, the largest audience that interacts with them will never see the work in person. The physical object is a carrier for a digital interaction and becomes a relic of digital life. The works exist in the a different context for each viewer and are viewed in lockstep with documentation of everyday life and constructed social personas: food photos, memes, selfies, half naked people in swimsuits, party shots, targeted ads, and the most attractive eye candy influencers can make. As such, these works interact as much with social media’s visual and algorithmic history as they do with the white walled

art history. As XR technologies become more common place, it will be possible to bring the work full-circle and exhibit my physical paintings next to their virtual representations.

One last thing. Art is best served by vibrant disagreements and ideas that provoke intense discomfort. The art world is in an incredible state of digital flux at the same time as hordes of people are using social media are tearing each other down over and over again in ego-driven, self-righteous tirades. As we experience these changes, let’s remember to protect speech and respect disagreement.

paul weiner - delphian magazine

Infographic showing the findings from some of the polls undertaken for this study

For more, see Paul Weiner’s

Website

Instagram

 

For more articles about the internet and the art world, see

Kate Mothes: Who Is It Real For? The Internet As Vehicle


My Top Five – ‘Premiums: Interim Projects 2019’ at the Royal Academy of Arts

Premiums: Interim Projects 2019, spread across the Weston Studio and The McAulay Gallery of the Royal Academy of Arts newly refurbished campus, gives the public the chance to see new work by artists who are halfway through their postgraduate study at the Royal Academy Schools. Founded in 1769, The RA Schools offers the only free three year postgraduate course in the UK, accepting a maximum of 17 artists each year who work across a range of mediums (painting, sculpture, photography, video and installation) in the studios of Burlington House.

“Premiums is a chance to encounter some of the most exciting and innovative work being produced by postgraduate students in the UK.” – Rebecca Salter RA, Keeper of the Royal Academy of Arts

If you can’t make it to the exhibition, which runs until March 13th, here is a rundown of my top five artists with work on display in ‘Premiums: Interim Projects 2019’, (in no particular order).

By Hector Campbell

 

Harminder Judge

 

interim projects 2019

Harminder Judge, ‘Untitled (morning smoke)’, ‘Untitled (bone fragments)’ & ‘Untitled (skies over pyres)’, All plaster, polymer, pigment, oil and wax, All 2019.

 

Harminder is currently studying at the Royal Academy Schools (2017-2020), having previously completed his BA in Fine Art at Northumbria University.

Creating a diverse artistic output that spans a wide range of formats including performance, installation, sculpture, photography, sound and video, Harminder explores ideas related to religious and occult imagery and iconography, as well as the marriage of Indian and Western cultures he experienced growing up as a British-born Sikh. The works on display in ‘Premiums’ are a continuation of the artists experimentation with layering plaster, polymer, pigment, oil and wax to create sculptural reliefs that evoke digital pixelated imagery as well as the aurora light displays.

Harminder’s recent solo exhibitions include ‘In this strange house…’ at The New Art Gallery, Walsall (2012) and his solo national touring project ‘The Modes of Al-Ikseer’ (2011). His work features in ‘ Art & Religion in the 21st Century’ published by Thames and Hudson (2015).

 

Website/Instagram

 

Joe Pearson

 

interim projects 2019

Joe Pearson, ‘Pissing in the Holy Fountain Before There’s Somewhere Else to Drink’, Oil on canvas, 2019

 

Joe is currently studying at the Royal Academy Schools (2017-2020), having previously completed his BA in Fine Art at the Slade School of Fine Art.

Having felt “boxed in”as a painter during his time at the Slade, and expanding into producing video animations and digital collage for his BA degree show, Joe has since returned to painting since starting his postgraduate studies at the RA Schools. The works on display in ‘Premiums’ depict the artist’s mythological cartoonish figures, presented contextless against stark primary coloured backgrounds, the viewer is encouraged to imagine the wider narrative that these pointy-nosed characters belong to.

As part of creative duo ‘Joe and Rory’, alongside Rory Cargill, Joe produces short films, sketches as well as a podcast.

 

Website/Instagram

 

Clara Hastrup

 

interim projects 2019

Clara Hastrup, ‘Echinocactus Grusonii: Polyphonia Fibonacci’, Mixed media, 2019

 

Clara is currently studying at the Royal Academy Schools (2017-2020), having previously completed her BA in Fine Art (Painting and Printmaking) at The Glasgow School of Art.

Creating immersive multimedia installations encompassing video, audio, sculpture and printed elements, Clara’s work often combines imagery and ideas taken from the natural world that are then contrasted and combined with technology and techniques from the digital world. The sculpture on display in ‘Premiums’ sees a large cactus placed on a rotating platform, it’s spines plucking and pricking against eight carefully arranged microphones to create a polyphony that plays in real time through the gallery speakers.

Clara has exhibited work as part of the RSA: New Contemporaries 2017 at Royal Scottish Academy, Edinburgh, as well as at Trinity House (Edinburgh, 2018), the Leith Theatre (Edinburgh, 2018) and the Dyson Gallery (London, 2018).

 

Website/Instagram

 

Jenkin van Zyl

 

interim projects 2019

Jenkin van Zyl, ‘Loon’, Two way mirror, latex, ladder, lipstick, LED lights, 2019

 

Jenkin is currently studying at the Royal Academy Schools (2017-2020), having previously completed his BA in Fine Art at the Slade School of Fine Art.

Jenkin’s singular creative vision draws upon a childhood spent enjoying both fancy dress and crossdressing, developing a unique personal style that is evident in his performance and video works. The sculpture on display in ‘Premiums’ doubles as the immersive environment within which Jenkin’s filmed the accompanying video piece ‘Loon’, as the artist refers to his sculptural works as like escapees from the films”.

Jenkin has modelled for a number of fashion and lifestyle magazines, been praised for his creative use of social media to promote queer communities, and directed a music video for the post-punk band HMLTD.

 

 

Website/Instagram

 

Liv Preston

 

interim projects 2019

Liv Preston, ‘Inventory for Alucard’, Arcade machine panels, mixed media, 2019

 

Liv is currently studying at the Royal Academy Schools (2017-2020), having previously completed her BA in Sculpture at Wimbledon College of Arts. Liv’s sculptural output examines video game culture, it’s common motifs and themes as well as it’s reassurance of ‘retro’ popularity. For ‘Premiums’ Liv presents a display of 28 arcade machine panels, deconstructed and decontextualized the painted panels become sculptural reliefs within the gallery context, the only clues to their previous existence being the occasional pictorial video game references and of course the works heavily referencial name.

Liv has exhibited widely in group exhibitions such as ‘Docile Bodiesat Vitrine Gallery (London, 2018), ‘Mantel’ at Copperfield Gallery (London, 2018), ‘general studies’ at Norwich Outpost (Norwich, 2016), and had her first solo exhibition, ‘Valuable Wounds’ at the Pas de Temps project space in Nantes, France in 2016.

 

Website/Instagram

 

For more by Hector Campbell see

We Are The People, Who Are You – Edel Assanti

Bloomberg New Contemporaries

Condo 2019


Charley Peters in conversation with Remi Rough

Charley Peters is a painter. I don’t see her paintings as simply abstract, they are more about the formalism of painting itself, but she also uses the surfaces she works on as conveyances for her internal structures. There is an abundance of mathematics within her paintings, from the simple yet perfect gradients she often uses to the detailed repetitive shapes that are painstakingly drawn and subsequently painted into tiny masked off sections. Peters plays with the idea of how people consume and view her artworks on handheld screens so much so that some of her paintings look almost like digital glitches when seen on a phone. Her use of colour is bold and beautiful so it’s no wonder so many people have gravitated toward her work.In the ever changing landscape of the modern art world Charley Peters is a much needed agent of change.

charley peters

Charley Peters in the studio

 

You often utilise a mixture of materials in your paintings, I wondered how you initially engage with materials, did you purposely select them or was there more of an accidental discovery? 

Could you also expand on your use of airbrush as I find this a really interesting medium?

 

I predominantly use acrylic paint, which I apply with a brush, and spray paint or acrylic paint run through an airbrush. The two ways of applying paint – by brush or by spraying – have very different sensibilities, and I like to offset one against the other. I like painting to be as engaged with the substance and appearance of paint as creating an ‘image’, so using paint in different ways enables me to generate a variety of surfaces within each work. When I paint with a brush it’s a slower and more controlled process, I use heavy body paint against tape, usually mixed to the consistency of soft butter and like it to be matt and opaque. Sprayed paint has a dewy quality, it’s very wet and more difficult to control, but I enjoy how tricky it is. It can be used to create solid, flat colour or if applied more sensitively, it’s possible to build up tones in translucent layers. I love how sprayed paint can suggest infinite pictorial depth, the way that light and colour are diffused by spraying is beautiful and almost otherworldly. Running acrylic paint through an airbrush allows me to create the effect of spray paint but I have more control over colour (obviously spray paint colours are pre-mixed) and it’s a more deliberate way of applying sprayed paint; controlled and precise but still with the capacity to appear gestural and fluid.

 

 

 

Could you describe your ideal painting? Have you made it yet? (I often ask myself this question by the way).

 

No, I don’t think I’ll ever make my ideal painting. I have paintings that I’m more satisfied with than others, some that I like on a purely instinctive level and others that I can’t stand the sight of. What I’d like to achieve in my paintings is a perfect balance of colour, composition and form. I break down the picture plane into different spatial areas of divergent visual information – all treated as individual components, but through the making of the work I hope to bring them all together to create a sense of harmony, as if all elements were always meant to be together. I don’t like my work when it is overworked or overcomplicated, paintings can be technically difficult to make and labour intensive but I don’t think they need to look like that’s the case. I suppose I want to look at my paintings and for them to just ‘be’ right. Of course, right is a highly subjective term and I often deliberately break rules and do things wrong in order to make the painting right in the end. And paint is a very spirited and rebellious medium, it sometimes does wrong things all by itself, which is also exactly the right thing for it to do.

 

charley peters - delphian magazine

(L) ~NMH*NFM~ (2018), acrylic on canvas, 120cm x 150cm
(R) LM>Installed in Harder Edge: A Survey of Recent Abstraction, Saatchi Gallery, London (2018)

Having worked with you on numerous occasions, you seem to have a pretty loose approach to making your work yet they look so organised and pre-designed. Do you prefer to work to preset ideas or be more flexible?

 

I don’t organise or pre-design my work at all. Again, I think this relates to me trying to make the painting right or balanced from the starting point of a blank canvas. Making paintings for me is a very fluid process, there are some moments of logical thought and conscious decision making but mostly I rely on my intuition and impulsive actions. I never know what my paintings will look like once they are finished. I always start with applying colour to the painting’s surface, usually a flat, mid-tone colour that I’ve arrived at by not much thought at all…often just a sense of whether it might be hot or cold or bright or dark. After that I divide the surface up spatially and work on each area independently of the others. At this point I mask off large areas of the painting so can’t see much of what I’m doing. I’m working in the dark most of the time. I work in layers, similar to constructing images using Photoshop, I don’t consider the whole painting until it’s nearly finished. I usually paint on the floor and draw quick sketches as I paint as half-formed notions of what I might do next, but these are far from ‘working drawings’ and more like linear scribbles that barely make sense. Somehow they help me move through paintings until they can be considered finished. It’s a difficult way of working, like organising the chaos of not knowing where things are going – I end up changing my mind about things, adjusting colours or forms as I paint, I paint over things that have taken days of work – but it’s the best way for me. I like to go to the studio and leave my logical, overthinking mind elsewhere, I think I make better paintings that way.

 

Also, I wanted to respond to your introduction to my work in this interview, in which you describe ‘an abundance of mathematics’ within my paintings. I find ‘mathematics’ such an alien term. I find numbers impossible – I can’t read or remember them, even simple numerical systems like phone numbers and padlock codes confuse me and I get them wrong. I generally rely on visual maths in the studio, dividing spaces up by eye rather than measuring them. My rulers all have paint on them and I can’t easily read the numbers, if I count or add things up I have to do it several times and it is still wrong. It made me laugh when you used the word ‘mathematics’ as I’m not at all mathematical or precise when I work – I make a huge mess every time I do anything!

 

charley peters - delphian magazine

>THT< (2018), acrylic on canvas, 120cm x 150cm

 

There seems to be a renaissance of hard edge, more graphic work lately, is this a good thing or a bad thing? I often wonder if it hinders or helps myself?

 

It’s both good and bad. When there is an increased interest in a particular aesthetic or methodology it opens up more opportunities to show work and be part of an identifiable peer network of artists – this is mostly a good thing, it means we are relevant and interesting if only for a transient period of time. What can be bad about being ‘on trend’ is that people can stop being critical, they don’t see the good work from the bad, the innovative from the derivative. I’m uncomfortable with any sentimental or nostalgic positioning of particular genres of painting, and being associated with, for example, the hard edge or geometric abstraction, feels unthinking and too surface level a definition for what I think I should be making today. I’d prefer to think that I’m looking at the hard edge through the lens of contemporary visual media – and asking questions about the legacy of abstraction and what it is now. There is no point making work in a contemporary context that looks like it could have been made in the 1960s.

 

 

 

[Remi Rough] – I know you’re doing a writing residency later this year and wondered how important is that aspect of your work compared to painting?

 

[Charley Peters] – Painting is always more important, I’m a painter who writes. Writing about others’ work is a good way to articulate ideas within my own painting with an objectivity that is difficult when trying to be too self-reflective. I find writing a frustrating process, it’s far too logical and slow. More so than with painting I need some sort of plan or structure at the beginning and that pisses me off, it’s so boring. I make sense of the process of writing in a way that I can cope with. I write in layers, like I would make a painting, writing unrelated pieces of text that get expanded on or edited out in waves of activity until there’s a whole piece of writing with a beginning, middle and end. I see words as having a rhythm, colour or shape when put together in sentences and then they make sense to me as a resolved object. I think it’s as important to be critical when writing as it is to be critical when painting and I like my texts to have ideas and positions in them, even if I’m writing a review of an exhibition, I think there should be a more interesting subtext than merely discussing the show.

 

 

 

[RR] – Would you ever consider taking your work into a more sculptural plane?

 

[CP] – My paintings are ‘spatial’, they engage with the physical space of the canvas and the illusionary space that painting can create. I do think that they are as much objects as they are images or surfaces. I always consider that the edges of the paintings are part of the work, they are usually painted as an extension of the front of the canvas. I have also made several walk-in, or immersive, paintings – room-sized installations of wall and/or floor paintings – as well as smaller assemblages of disparate painted sculptural elements. Painting has the capacity to challenge our understanding of space and has a life that extends beyond being hung on a wall. Even the most benign rectangular canvas on a white gallery wall can manipulate and control space. I think it’s more important than ever to acknowledge painting’s sculptural potential in a world where most of what we experience is non-physical and seen on a screen.

 

 

charley peters - delphian magazine

Editing Suite, Installed in The Future, Coventry Biennial of Contemporary Art, Coventry (2017)
Acrylic and spray paint on panel and wall painting

 

[RR] – Can you tell me about 3 artists dead or alive you have had a big influential impact on you and the way you work.

 

[CP] – Definitely Agnes Martin. Martin said that inspiration found her and that she could take no credit for it, she just emptied her head – especially of thoughts of herself – and inspiration would come into her ‘vacant mind’. This relates to what I was saying earlier about leaving my logical mind outside the studio. I think that painting became more interesting for me when I stopped planning, thinking and knowing what I was doing. Removing myself from the work as much as possible allows the paintings to make themselves – they feel more honest that way. I love Eva Hesse’s work, her bold and exploratory use of materials and textures is both intelligent and sensual. Sol LeWitt’s letter to Eva Hesse is something that I return to over and over again. It reminds me of the difficulties of making work and, again, the importance of ‘doing’ over thinking, worrying or second guessing. It’s a mistake to only credit him with that letter, he couldn’t have written it without her. And I’d also cite Carmen Herrera as being a significant figure for me. She exemplifies so well the strength and resilience of creative spirit, and makes shit hot paintings too.

 

[RR] – Do you think your artwork is a subjective window of your personality?

 

[CP] – That’s an interesting question…

Do you mean are my paintings a reflection of who I am, for example, an odd mixture of impulsiveness and discipline?! You should tell me – you know me well enough to say! I’m generally uncomfortable talking about my work in subjective terms. I have a formal painting practice, my concerns are with the relationships between colour, form and compositional space, and nothing emotional. I like how abstraction masks subjectivity so we can just see the work and nothing else. I’m certainly not positioning myself, my life experiences or opinions within my work and as such I’m resistant to any suggestion that my paintings are a representation, for want of a better word, of my personality. Of course, at times I may make subjective judgements on things like colour or when a painting is finished, but does that make ‘me’ part of the work? Sometimes if I’m tired or had a tough day does that affect the sensibility of my painting or the decisions I make in the studio? Maybe it does. You’ve asked a complicated question, and I can answer it by talking about my intentions for the work and how I like to consider my painting as a non-subjective entity. It’s possible that this isn’t entirely true though, it’s so difficult to say where decisions in the studio come from and how much of that is driven by intuition or experience.

 

Both artists are still exhibiting at the The House Of Saint Barnabus alongside Peter Lamb,  and Charley is showing at Fold Gallery until the 2nd of March.

If you enjoyed Remi interviewing Charley, read Charley interviewing Remi HERE

The pair also have just released a print (with Peter Lamb), which can be bought HERE


Who is it real for? The internet as vehicle

Who is it real for? The internet as vehicle by Kate Mothes

the internet as vehicle - delphian magazine

Salad Days – an online exhibition with Young Space

 

(This column came from a late-night post on Facebook, which generated a discussion that I was thinking about for days after. When social media is genuinely social, it can be incredibly rewarding. This column is essentially that Facebook post, edited for clarity, with some of the thoughts from comments woven in.)

 

There’s a misconception (which I subscribed to for a long time) that everyone in the art world is rich. Like, stinking, rotten rich. They have this beautiful white cube space; they take collectors out to dinner; they’re jet-setting from art fair to art fair; they’re dealing in fine art, a luxury item, for crying out loud. “They” feels totally disparate from “me,” the indie creative person, plugging along, disconnected from the glamour I associate with that lifestyle. It’s a lot more complex and stratified than that now, and the internet can be both blamed and lauded for its ability to simultaneously mask and manufacture ideas about that lifestyle.

 

It’s easy, as an independent creative, on principle, to assume that the big guys are always out to get the little guys. Does anyone else assume that everyone else on Instagram is rich? Or has the luxury to make art 24/7? I do too, and then I have to remember that it’s an aspirational platform, and much of this is fabrication, or an omission of the details that make life livable – working 60 hours per week, taking care of a house, getting the kids to school on time, and soo on. It’s easy to mistrust what looks a lot like big money, when money is something you generally scrape by for. The internet has already changed that “them vs. me” mentality, and continues to do so, and I, for one, am doing something within the art world that would not be possible without the internet. So why am I still so confounded by it?

 

I alternately describe myself as a curator, a presenter, an influencer, an organizer, or a producer, or simply a collaborator, depending on what I’m working on that minute. I also acknowledge that I’m working within a globalized contemporary art world – somewhere in between artists’ studios and commercial galleries’ back rooms – and that’s a wide net to cast, and the depths are blurry. Also, the vast majority of everything I do is online, a playing field that has been leveled by social media platforms to allow for more ways to showcase and access art, while at the same time raising questions about how it’s homogenizing the field itself.

 

I currently live in a blue-collar city in Northern Wisconsin, where I grew up and where it is exceptionally affordable. It’s a place where, however, the art scene we associate with New York City, London, or Hong Kong, does not reach one spindly tendril. I justify to myself that I’m here because there’s an ironic cachet to rurality in contemporary art, and it’s a little bit weird, but the truth is that it’s out of sheer necessity. There is simply no way I would be able to focus as much time and energy on the creative route I’ve found myself on, if I was a rent slave in New York. Every day, though, I wish I could be there. So, I use the internet to keep a finger on the pulse, establish connections, and work on projects. I’m always remote. And I am connected to countless others online who operate in a similar way.

 

The internet, which billions of us now use, is at the center of my (hopefully not too navel-gazey) fascination with the directions that the art world moves, how opportunities are generated, and how attitudes toward various art world geographies and players continue to shift. Its role in the arts is paradoxical in that it is essential across the board for myriad reasons, from advertising to networking, however it can be seen as a necessity or an alternative. Where that line is drawn depends entirely on who’s using it, and who their audience is.

 

There are advisors, consultants, developers, designers, curators, artist-curators, brokers, nomadic spaces, publishers, online auctions, Instagram galleries, virtual spaces, etc. The ways that artists can reach audiences these days is AMAZING. But we’re still not comfortable with the fast pace at which the Internet, and the way we look at art, is changing how we make, learn about, and purchase artwork. In the digital age, we try our best to keep up with how fast the art world moves, at the same time knowing that the digital sphere is the epicenter of innovation today. The art world is no exception.

 

From a more philosophical point of view, assuming that there is or should ever be one way of looking, finding, experiencing, interacting with, making, or sharing artwork = absolutely ludicrous. Because I was raised by artists, resisted academia despite the pressure to pursue it, was influenced by artist-led culture, and have always been driven to DO and MAKE as a way of being, I’m hard-wired to see alternatives to everything. Not that the way I want to do it is better–it might fail horribly–but if it hasn’t really been done this way before, or if I have a certain set of tools in my toolbox that I didn’t before, why shouldn’t an alternative at least be attempted?

 

The Internet has revved up to hyper-speed the rate at which we experience, view, participate in, and connect with art and art people. Without it, my project, a nomadic online-offline curatorial contemporary platform called Young Space, would not exist. I’m extremely interested in how fast things move and what sort of information we as creatives share online. How can we use this as a vehicle? How does it help? How does it hinder? What are the limitations, and what are the open horizons?

 

I’ve been doing this experimental series of online exhibitions, the most recent called Salad Days, which has had a great response. However, I admit I feel weird about these. I feel weird because they’re not “real.” But then I mentally slap myself and think, DUH, YES, THEY ARE REAL. They are very real. And I want to do more of them.

 

Why do I feel like these are not real? Maybe there’s a disconnect between the “analog” artwork and the “virtual” vessel. This may feel difficult to reconcile, even if all of the other pieces of the puzzle add up to a very traditional way of presenting a show… it’s simply that the exhibition space is a website. Is that stilla scary idea? The question is perhaps not so much is it a scary idea, but to whom.Because, in fact, almost all of the complaints I receive are from artists, and I would argue it’s because there is still a perception that the internet is simply “easier.” I’m arguing that it’s not; the work and time we invest just looks different.

 

These online shows have been more popular and just as well-received as the physical shows I’ve curated (so far), so I’m really intrigued as to why, when I do an online show, I receive much more flack for it than when I do a physical one. Full disclosure, it usually has to do with either a fee required to apply, or commission taken from sales. These are sore spots for artists because there’s already so much expense to just make the work, let alone the time invested. (I think it’s a mistake to proclaim that pay-to-play is, across the board, horrible. YES, sometimes they are really lame. But if one does their research, it’s not difficult to find out if something is legit, and if that person is really working in your best interest. That is an essay for another time.)

 

There seems to be a bizarrely fine line between the idea of “supporting” artists and “exploiting” them. Money is still the core of this, which is unfortunate and ironic, as artists are educated in making art for art’s sake, but realistically they are thrust into an art world that values the appearance of that, but the bottom line is still about sales. This points to a big debate within art schools about whether to teach artists business practices. Because the art world artists strive to get into is about money. Art for art’s sake? Sure. But you still need to eat.

 

Online exhibitions are not new. I’m fascinated that they are such a tender spot. For example, Artsy offers a resource called ‘The Gallery’s Guide to Online Exclusive Shows.’As I see it, online shows are more accessible than a physical space. More people can see them, in any part of the world, at any time of day. It’s less expensive, as there’s no need to rent space, or pay for packing or shipping. That money can be spent on increased advertising, web fees, saves artists the trouble shipping work unless it sells, and the artists still have documentation of a professionally curated exhibition. The work does sell sometimes, but sometimes it doesn’t, of course.

 

I, for one, don’t think in dollars and cents about online shows. Young Space is not really a commercial venture – it’s a curatorial platform. It’s a “project.” The value comes from a different direction: I’m attempting to position myself as a facilitator for these artists, as opposed to acting as a dealer. I can’t even count how many artists from my Instagram or exhibitions have been selected for exhibitions or projects, not to mention galleries’ rosters! (Do I get a cent from any of that? No.)

 

Perhaps trouble arises because of a problem that is as old as the internet itself: Can I trust that you are you who say you are, and that you will do what you say you will do? How is this different than any other Instagram account? Who do you know? What are your credentials? (My answer to that is always DO YOUR RESEARCH. Ask. Don’t assume that everyone’s out there to get you.) Pro tip: Artists, don’t be accusatory, arrogant, or assume you know everything right out of the gate. If you do, you can bet I’m never going to want to work with you, or recommend you to anyone, period. I would never presume to know how someone else’s work was made, having never tried myself.

the internet as vehicle - delphian magazine

Salad Days – an online exhibition with Young Space

 

Recently, smaller galleries are shuttering their doors, decentralizing from urban cultural centers, or pursuing online platforms. Gallerists that once maintained brick and mortar locations are now dealing artwork without the real estate overhead. They’re in a double-bind, because they have to keep up appearances, and yes, keep with tradition (the comfort of the brick and mortar, the philosophical dilemma of getting rid of a physical space and still being able to call oneself a gallerist), even when they are struggling. If they admit they’re not doing well, they look like they can’t hold it together, rather than the opposite being the case: rising rents are not only forcing artists out, but galleries too. If they pretend they’re doing just fine when they’re actually freaking the F out, they’re fighting a losing battle too, because they’ll eventually not be able to sustain at the same pace, and they’ll fold anyway.

 

Advertising and fair fees are immense, the pressure to do them is intense, and competition can be cutthroat. There are the motherships – Gagosian, Saatchi, PACE and the like. There are some great mid-tier galleries, excellent smaller galleries, and some very exciting startups. Great galleries are often side hustles. I’m not saying there aren’t some seriously putridly rich people out there; many of them are. But many are just doing OK.

 

It’s worth remembering that artists have historically been kept separate from the art world until they are “welcomed in” by a gatekeeper, whether it’s a gallerist or a collector or simply someone who knows someone. In a sense, even my project Young Space is like a lower-tier gate – one that aims to offer early career and emerging artists the chance to have their work showcased to an audience comprised of gallerists, curators, collectors, and other artists. The competition is fierce, the animosity spreads like moss… it takes a lot to keep your chin up, let alone find emotional or mental room for optimism when you feel like you’re getting overlooked again and again. It’s not that you don’t have something of value to offer; it may be that the time is just not right yet.

 

Regardless, there’s a system in place and there are rules. Rules that supposedly can be broken–but can they? There are things that are simply “not done,” like the classic no-no of walking into a gallery with your portfolio hoping they’ll be inspired by your courage and place you on their roster. But of course, feel free to innovate or approach those boundaries all you like… at your peril. There is so much code-switching in the art world, it boggles the mind. The internet, though, is a place where there is power to influence and to be seen, as the connectivity we can achieve now, via social media especially, was unheard of a decade ago.

 

No, an online show will never be the same as viewing work in person. Never. But I find the resistance to–and cynicism toward–virtual modes of sharing artwork a little awkward at this point. This is a whole new realm of connectivity, and as creatives this is what we do. This is the game! Try weird shit! For a while I was irritated and took criticism about these things personally (Young Space is a solo project after all, it’s sometimes hard to disengage). But I’m realizing that this nerve is perhaps exactly the reason it’s worth exploring.

 

For more guest articles, see Charley Peters’ interview with Remi Rough