Nicolas Hughes (UK) - Image #6, Verse III, Field series
"The dream of deep ecology will never be realised on earth, but our survival as a species may be dependent on our capacity to dream it in the work of our imagination". From ‘Song of the earth’. (Jonathan Bate).
Having sought previously to create a primordial forest in central London, it seemed an appropriate next step to remove myself to a more remote location in order to further examine the human relationship with nature. At the outset of a two-year period spent in the far southwest of England I determined to restrict my attention to only that which lay within my immediate vicinity and was accessible by foot. In line with previous attempts to work within a defined space I made a field bordering my home the arena of my activities. Submerging myself within this space satisfied my desire to restrict my impact on the Earth, for in place of travel to new and exotic destinations I sought the new and exotic at home.
I found inherent in this field a powerful symbol of an historic and continuing paradigm. Upon leaving our ancient forested home, the cutting of fields marked our first attempts to colonise the wilderness and harness nature for material gain, and in our misguided use of the rainforests today we see how little our philosophies have progressed since.
Yet whilst the land carries the tale of its own destruction, it continues to present alternatives for the future. Finding little to disturb my camera work enabled a clawing back of senses from the oversaturated and over-stimulated media driven world and offered the possibility, through isolation, of being open to the transformative powers of nature.
This highly concentrated field study drew support from the symbolism inherent in depictions of the rural idyll, and from there emerged an allegory of three parts; an investigation of our past in order to gauge a better measure of our future.
It is art itself who must teach us to free ourselves from the rules of art. Molière
It is necessary to see, not what it is like, but what it could and should be. Quatremère De Quincy
The upsetting notion of setting out, of all beginnings, unavoidably subjugated by that true instant, before time, yet to be memorized, in which this begins, gives way to an occurrence that in turn generates possible, varied events, that relate those thresholds of position, adimensional, without space or time, but with the energy intact from the expansive origin (An eon? A millisecond?) that even so must paradoxically involve structure, and a past. Here is the development around the idea of a slow discontinuity, from the exhibition of paintings I created in 1986 in which Fundació Caixa de Pensions de Valencia, whose catalogue with a prologue by Daniel Giralt-Miracle I must mention as an antecedent that will explain the step that the exhibition signifies.
To sum up, the author of the presentation said: “Covering ground, Yturralde, at this moment, and despite the predominance of constructive or geometric grammar, is nearer poetry than a Rothko as far as the degrees of fantasy and formal sobriety are concerned, than the same Yturralde of ten years ago. They are pictures constructed of large zones of colour, penetrated by simple elements that activate the surfaces and are projected expansively outwards, whereas in his previous stage everything was surrounded by emblematic shapes full of energy but closed in upon themselves.” It is worth adding now that the large, more or less neutral zones of colour, tempered by the directional or fluctuating order of the simple structural elements they are composed of, are radicalised a little more. They are also emptied to establish other limits, other tensions in what is impossible that is still left in the field of nothingness, making the delicate presence of absence evident, the metaphor of the lowest state of energy towards the concept that appears to contain all possibilities, perhaps from a perfect irregularity, randomness and the unforeseeable to a kind of more mysterious order: chaos. Perhaps the kind of archetype I seek. How can one trace the void, nothingness, the infinite, the beginning and end as a generatrix cause? Perhaps Mandelbrot’s processes and fractal sets (now classical), no longer for the visual results of their images but for the philosophy that comes from their complex periodicity, for the insecurity in the diligence applied to the models, and above all because they incessantly explore the extreme zones of tension, in the limit of limits. And the affirmation (for now) that in these sets, following extraordinarily precise patterns, there is no place for the laws of randomness, determinism or predictability. As if randomness were an illusion.
Thus, there are some elusive, distant aspects left, of hidden expressions, not in the limits but in those places that perception misses, the not-centre, the not-vertex, the not-main directions like the zenith, the horizon or the nadir, specific diagonals and the right angle.
Perhaps the random models that come out of chaos lead us to concepts that are more in keeping with art and with life that, as Erwin Schirödinger said, possesses the “amazing gift of concentrating a flow of order in itself, and frees itself of the chance to fall into cosmic chaos”, or to a state of entropy of maximum stability.
I believe that these visual memoirs, the pictures present here, are a logical part of those fluctuating forms that, from a paradoxical solidity, in some way representative, that the “impossible figures” were that came out of the spatial networks of a secret multidimensional desire, and that they were not “pictures” until the current parenthesis, which implies taking up the plan again and a more poetic yet if possible highly precise attitude.
I have tried to recuperate, by modification and naturally from a different point of view, the compositional-musical of Leo Battista Alberti, the golden sequences of Paolo Uccello, the strange geometrical negation through geometry of a Peter Halley, or the spatial tensions that are generated by the works of Gerhard Merz.
But my intention of atemporality necessarily leads me to moderate the classical measures, to make minimal shifts at times, subtle but evident ones, stating the lack of coincidence, building divergences until the parallels will never meet. I destabilize the points of maximum tension that articulate the networks and obvious rhythms of the picture, lightly dodging them, slowly. The squares, which in general are not squares as such, will therefore never be able to overlap. They are an appearance, a desire, a form of synapses or gluons that intertwine imperceptible pulsations, shapes and colours in an apparent unstable silence.
I should like to hear the light movement of the geometry of chaos.
Kent Williams (US) - Blonde Natalia in Studio Arrangement, 2010
oil on linen, 112 x 122 cm, available
Whether or not they actively subsume sexuality under the weight of calculated conceptual concerns, the formats of many media favored by contemporary artists tend towards disrupting acts of voyeurism. British artist Sarah Lucas’s jury-rigged assemblages investigate its seedy socio-economic complexities. A.K. Burns and A.L. Steiner’s collaborative, performance-driven videos reformulate the paradigms of its mediation to emphasize its role in community formation. Defused by the enforced deadpan of their documentary sensibilities, it never rises to the glossy surfaces of Mona Kuhn’s at once bared and barren photographs.
By contrast, Kent Williams’ current paintings and drawings derive much of their potency from exemplifying figurative painting’s alluring tactility and coincidental ties to the long history of eroticized representation. Though tempered by comparison, the artist’s stylistic extravagance – manifest in expressionistically smeared, splattered, and abraded paint handling – calls to mind Cecily Brown’s fluent foregrounding of oil’s in-the-flesh immediacy and the cunning ease with which obfuscatory gestures can suggest sexual frisson.
Perhaps the show’s cynosure, “Blonde Natalia in Studio Arrangement”revels in the risqué, if also knowingly retardataire, associations of studio practice. Rendered in a flurry of writhing strokes of oil on linen, its physically idealized (i.e., sexually objectified) male and female models writhe in independent ecstasies against a backdrop of paint cans and orange extension cables – the latter an explicit reminder of the erotic currents snaking through the composition’s literal and figurative middle ground. Indulgent, irresponsible, and wickedly immediate, the painting – suitably representative of the majority of works on view – largely ignores the continuing crisis of representation. Williams’ willful indifference to such intellectual conceits serves to make it sexier.
Andy Denzler (CH) - The Orange Hues of Heaven, 2010
oil on canvas, 140 x 120 cm
Andy Denzler’s figurative paintings have evolved only in the last few years after a long period exploring the possibilities of Abstraction. Starting with his ‘American Paintings’ series (2005) Denzler has since been involved in an examination of imagery drawn from various sectors of popular culture. Despite this seemingly dramatic shift between the abstract and figurative, what links the two bodies of work is the artist’s continued dialogue with art history and, more specifically, the history of painting.
Whilst the photographic/cinematic origins of many of Denzler’s paintings are explicit, he renders them in a distinctly gestural style, lending them the appearance of a long photographic exposure or fast movie camera pan. His subjects are reduced to a blurred set of generic features, positions and clothing, thus echoing the reductive tendency present in much mainstream film and advertising, one that seeks to erase any imperfection or difference that the viewer may find unappealing. Likewise, the ‘landscapes’ that his subjects inhabit are most often reduced to a series of horizontal and vertical planes of muted colour.
Main Exhibition Space, Imperial War Museum North, Manchester
6 November 2010 – 6 November 2011
To mark this year’s Remembrance, the Imperial War Museum North in Manchester is exhibiting the Crusader, a unique and specially commissioned artwork by Gerry Judah.
the Crusader has been created in direct response to contemporary global conflict. It reflects on modern day wars but also resonates with the history of world conflict, making it a powerful and thought provoking piece. The sculpture comprises a 7 metre three-dimensional crucifix covered with a lattice of war-torn buildings lacquered in snow white. The setting in the Imperial War Museum North’s landmark building - designed by Daniel Libeskind to represent a globe shattered by conflict - is fitting, given the Crusader's imposing appearance. Gerry Judah’s work is a reaction to the Imperial War Museum as well as its themes.
the Crusader is the culmination of five years of engagement with conflict in which Gerry Judah has created a series of three-dimensional paintings of urban decimation through conflict, inspired by recent historical events with a particular focus in Eastern Europe and the Middle East. It is the first and only sculpture in this body of work, which was initially conceived when Judah produced the acclaimed Auschwitz-Birkenau model for the Holocaust Exhibition in the Imperial War Museum, London in 2000.
the Crusader is on exhibition at the Imperial War Museum North from 6 November 2010 for a year. The huge creation is the first exhibit visitors will see on entering the Museum’s Main Exhibition Space. It is placed on the wall above head height at a diagonal angle towards the viewer, who receives the full impact of the towering sculpture - the effect of the cross and the multiplicity of the decimated buildings.
Jim Forrester, Imperial War Museum North Director, said: ‘the Crusader is a very dramatic sculpture that will provide an emphatic welcome to everyone this Remembrance. It offers an unusual perspective on conflict at a very poignant time of year, showing how war shapes lives.’