Damien Meade – Untitled (Structure 1), 2014
THE ABJECT OBJECT
Curated by Geraint Evans
Sophie Birch, G L Brierley, Simon Callery, Mark Fairnington, Ana Genoves, John Greenwood, Paul Housley, Damien Meade, Donal Moloney
Exhibition Dates: 22 April – 20 May 2016
Opening Event: Thursday 21 April, 5 – 8pm
“Still life robs the world of human presence, and narrative value. Its illusionism implies an object world that has dispensed with human attention and in a sense makes human attention and the human subject obsolete. And its vision breaks the bond of life between the subject who looks and the world that is seen.”
Norman Bryson: Chardin and the text of Still Life 1989
This exhibition is concerned with the painting of objects and the thingness of things. It explores the relationship between the subject and object, the observer and observed. Although the artists included are partly engaged with the still-life tradition – with vanitas or the Spanish bodegón, – their subjects and contexts are far more uncertain and wide-ranging.
Within this show there are representations of crudely constructed models (in the case of Meade) or ambiguous architectural forms (Genovés). There are references to the body (Meade, Fairnington), sumptuous non-things (Brierley, Greenwood) and vanitas and the memento mori (Housley, Brierley, Greenwood, Moloney). At times these objects seem to be in a state of collapse or degeneration (Birch, Callery). There are paintings that read as objects (Callery) and objects that suggest the painterly (Genovés). There are moments of bathos and abjection. The objects depicted are, at once, familiar and other.
Ana Genovés makes sculptural forms that echo the props of social order – the objects through which we conduct and arrange our civil space. These conventions often default to a neat geometry to suggest an appearance of control; however, there are signs of entropy in the forms and surfaces of her work, suggesting a subsidence into disorder, into the unknown, or the unfathomable – the collective fear of the other.
The everyday household objects in the video works of Sophie Birch are in a perpetual state of suspense awaiting their slow-motion collapse. Writing about still life’s relationship with illusionism, Bryson describes the ways in which objects within tromp l’oeil paintings often “present themselves as not awaiting human attention, or as abandoned by human attention” and there is a sense of this abandonment within Birch’s compositions. He continues: “divorced from use things revert to entropy or absurdity – suspended and waiting, disregarded.”
Damien Meade’s carefully crafted painterly representations of formless things and modelled heads hover between still life and portraits, inert matter and sentient beings. The heads suggest the possibility of animation, referencing the very moment that the living body reverts to inanimate matter, the slim boundary between life and death, what Julia Kristeva would describe as “…death infecting life” (Julia Kristeva: ‘Powers of Horror’ 1982).
Viewed as a series, G L Brierley’s paintings suggest a sort of cabinet of curiosities containing ambiguous objects that shift between decoration and formlessness, the anatomical and the grotesque. Each are described through the application of a range of painterly techniques, from delicate authorial marks to poured, dripped and wrinkled paint.
Although the subjects of these works might appear to be formless, crude or abject there is real craft in their painterly representations. The authorial application of paint in Meade’s work echoes the hand-fashioned clay that forms many of his heads. Fairnington’s facility with materials and process suggests the possibility of animation in his anatomical specimens.
It is paint’s essential materiality that shapes our relationship with the objects within this work – its quality and appearance resonate with meaning and, at once, elicit both a sense of antipathy and empathy. http://events.arts.ac.uk/event/2016/4/22/THE-ABJECT-OBJECT/
John Greenwood – Self(ish) Portrait 2016
Interesting show with a mix of paintings, sculptures and videos. Finely painted canvases by John Greenwood and Mark Fairnington … extremely detailed and realistic. The formers work producing images of surealistic portraits of himself and his father through fruit like objects.
I particularly like the work of Damien Meade who creates sculptures of heads, usually looking away from the viewer, and then paints them. See image on the poster above by Damien… the limblike structures look almost human in their colour and the way they bend and sit on the ground.
Donal Moloney – Shrines 2013
Simon Callery – Flat Painting Bodfari 14/15 Ferrous 2014-2015