We've moved


The Aesthetica Blog has moved:


Friday, 3 February 2012

The Familiar and the Exotic | Last Chance to See | Diane Arbus | Jeu de Paume | Paris








Text by Matt Swain

Diane Arbus (1923-1971)revolutionised the art she practised. Her bold subject matter and photographic approach produced a body of work that is often shocking in its purity, in its steadfast celebration of things as they are. Her gift for rendering strong those things we consider most familiar, and for uncovering the familiar within the exotic, enlarges our understanding of ourselves. In this first major retrospective in France, a selection of 200 photographs allows the viewer the opportunity to explore the origins, scope and aspirations of a wholly originally force in photography. It includes all of the artist's iconic photographs as well as many that have not been publicly exhibited.

The photographs are not arranged chronologically or thematically. Rather, they are presented singularly, accompanied only by the artist’s own titles, giving the spectator an individual experience of each image. There is richness and abundance of work here that serves to demonstrate the wealth of source material Arbus surrounded herself with, both geographically and culturally, particularly in New York. Arbus focused on deviant and marginal figures, turning them into extraordinary people through her distinctive black and white photographs; a hidden world unmasked.

Arbus’ work represents things as they are with striking boldness and purity; couples, children, carnival performers, nudists, transvestites, eccentrics and celebrities are all shown within the prism of their own world, demonstrating Arbus’ unique sensibility with regard to posture and light. A family one evening in a nudist camp, Pa., 1965 shows two females and a male seemingly oblivious to anything other than their own experience. Boy with a straw hat waiting to march in a pro-war parade, N.Y.C, 1967 is one of Arbus’ more iconic works and is immediately recognisable in its simplicity. With an American flag at his side, the boy wears a bow tie and button badges with war-slogans, eliciting both sympathy and understanding.

In other works, there is a darker, underlying mystique. Female impersonator putting on lipstick, N.Y.C, 1959 possesses a sparse, morose serenity in direct contrast to the implied faux glamour one is led to imagine would follow and in viewing A Puerto Rican housewife, N.Y.C, 1963; you are left with the distinct impression that there is something beyond the surface we know nothing about. Similarly, A young man in curlers on West 20th Street, N.Y.C, 1966 continues the female impersonator series. Again, it is the implied suggestion that there is another world beyond the veneer that gives this such an integral sense of connectivity.

Location is a significant component of a number of works. Rocks on wheels, Disneyland, CA, 1962, shows industry amidst the Californian landscape, whilst Couple on a pier, N.Y.C, 1963, reveals the tenderness of lovers, listening to a radio, unfettered by the outside world. A very thin man in central park, N.Y.C, 1961, needs little explanation yet possesses a powerful, other-worldly presence.

There are moments of humour, such as in Santas at the Santa Claus School, Albion, NY, 1964, and the Christmas theme is repeated in Xmas tree in a living room in Levittown, LI, 1963, a delightful picture of domestic festivity. Arbus focused on celebrities too and both Susan Sontag and Norman Mailer are represented here. There is also a self-portrait, Self portrait, pregnant, 1945, which shows Arbus in a bedroom. However, it is the unknown figures, those on the fringes of society and with their own very personal story to tell that occupy the most emotive moments in Arbus’ work. Whether that is because we are aware of her friendships with so many of these people, or because we cannot avert our gaze, acknowledging that we are voyeurs looking in at something personal remains open to debate.

Almost without exception, all of the works feel like a personal encounter where you are engaging directly with the subject. This is the beauty and the mystery Arbus gives to us. A secret intimacy that the whole world is able to see, but with a parallel sense of never quite knowing the absolute truth. As Arbus herself once stated; “A photograph is a secret about a secret. The more it tells the less you know.”

Diane Arbus, 18/10/2011 - 05/02/2012, Jeu de Paume, 1 Place de la Concorde, 75008 Paris. www.jeudepaume.org

Aesthetica in Print

If you only read Aesthetica online, you're missing out. The February/March issue of Aesthetica is out now and offers a diverse range of features from an examination of the diversity and complexity of art produced during the tumultuous decade of the 1980s in Art, Love & Politics in the 1980s, opening 11 February at MCA Chiacgo, a photographic presentation of the Irish Museum of Modern Art's latest opening, Conversations: Photography from the Bank of America Collection. Plus, we recount the story of British design in relation to a comprehensive exhibition opening this spring at the V&A.

If you would like to buy this issue, you can search for your nearest stockist here. Better yet call +44 (0) 1904 629 137 or visit the website to subscribe to Aesthetica for a year and save 20% on the printed magazine.

Captions:
All images © The Estate of Diane Arbus LLC, New York

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Coggles Street Style Film: Part II

Natasha from coggles on Vimeo.

Over the past month, Aesthetica has featured Coggles' new campaign, Street Styles Series which aim to promote the brand's primary mission of including personality into their designs for people not models. This exclusive short from Coggles is a portrait of style, featuring Danish tattoo artist Natasha. Natasha styled herself for the film mixing vintage pieces with Paul & Joe Sister.

Turner and the Elements & Hamish Fulton: Walk | Turner Contemporary | Margate





Text by Emily Sack

The small seaside town of Margate boasts Turner Contemporary, a gallery that celebrates JMW Turner, who made Margate his home for a number of years, and local and international artists from further abroad. The building designed by David Chipperfield Architects is a rigidly geometric structure that mirrors the sails of the boats that frequent Turner’s paintings.

Within the airy interior, the North and South galleries are devoted to Turner and the Elements, an exhibition that moves beyond classifying Turner as “a painter of colour” and further examines his relationship with the natural world. By dividing the gallery into five sections: Earth, Water, Air, Fire and Fusion, curators Inés Richter-Musso and Ortrud Westheider illustrate Turner's fascination with the latest scientific and technological developments of his time. One of the notable revelations the viewers experience with the organisation of the exhibition is that the works in the Earth segment are almost exclusively from the earliest points in the artist’s career, many dating to the late 18th century. It is as the artist grows and matures that he moves to the sea and skyscapes for which he is best known, and which demonstrate the most experimentation and energy. The show exhibits almost 90 paintings by the renowned British artist, including many watercolours that better demonstrate the innovative experimentation than the more formal oil paintings.

A majority of Turner’s work does not simply study one of the elements but rather explores the forces of nature that result in a "Fusion", the fifth element explored in the exhibition. In some of these paintings the integration of air and water is so profound that the horizon essentially disappears leaving little distinction between sea and sky. Despite his interest in scientific discoveries, Turner had a sense of theatrics that he employed in the vibrant colours utilised and, at times violent phenomena, depicted. An exhibition text recalls a visit of two peers to Turner’s studio in August 1845 where they were confronted with a surprising procedure. Upon ringing the bell, the door was opened a few inches and a woman’s voice asked what they wanted. When they replied that they wished to see Turner, the door was shut in their faces. After a time the woman let them into a room in total darkness. There the gentlemen were left to wait until their eyes adjusted to the lack of light. Only then were they allowed to go upstairs to Turner’s studio. The painter explained to them subsequently that an interval of darkness was necessary after the bright light of the August day to sensitise their eyes to the fine nuances of colour in his pictures. In this way, Turner expands his role as an artist to become a sort of illusionist or entertainer – the purpose is not to simply depict a scene but rather to create a drama and a narrative beyond the ephemeral vignette.

Turner Contemporary is simultaneously exhibiting work by contemporary British artist, Hamish Fulton. Fulton is a self-declared "walking artist" whose first UK public solo exhibition is aptly entitled Hamish Fulton: Walk. The separation by two centuries has an obvious effect on the disparate aesthetics of Fulton and Turner, but both men emphasise the importance of place and have personal ties to Margate and north Kent. Fulton performs individual and group walks throughout the world, which he later documents in a variety of media and styles including photographs, text, and graphic diagrams. The walks Fulton participates in are a sort of pilgrimage, but they are about the journey almost more so than the final destination - it is the process of walking and observing that are important. Building on meditation practices of Buddhism such as circumambulatory temples, the walk is a form of introspection, whether performed solo or as part of a group. On particularly poignant work is handwritten on gridded paper. The last line reads “no talking for nine days,” which highlights the highly personal nature of the practice that elevates the quotidian activity into an art form. Because a walk cannot be sufficiently contained within a gallery space, the works that make up the exhibition only reflect a finished product, not the entire piece. As richly varied as the terrains and cultures experienced, the works vary in size and placement in the gallery causing viewers to approach a low hanging work closely or step back to view a climbing line towards the pitched ceiling.

Set against the backdrop of a bright and crisp winter’s day, a visit to Turner Contemporary is a refreshing taste of nature outside the busy London environment. The natural light penetrates the gallery space imbuing the works with a life-like quality and the simplicity of display highlights the work of Turner in an innovative way. Turner’s influence throughout subsequent art history is obvious in the work of the Impressionists, but beyond the nineteenth century, the paintings remain dynamic and exciting for artists interested in depicting place.

Turner and the Elements, 28 January 2012 - 13 May 2012 and Hamish Fulton: Walk, 17 January 2012 - 7 May 2012. Turner Contemporary, Rendezvous, Margate, Kent, CT9 1HG. www.turnercontemporary.org

Aesthetica in Print

If you only read Aesthetica online, you're missing out. The February/March issue of Aesthetica is out now and offers a diverse range of features from an examination of the diversity and complexity of art produced during the tumultuous decade of the 1980s in Art, Love & Politics in the 1980s, opening 11 February at MCA Chiacgo, a photographic presentation of the Irish Museum of Modern Art's latest opening, Conversations: Photography from the Bank of America Collection. Plus, we recount the story of British design in relation to a comprehensive exhibition opening this spring at the V&A.

If you would like to buy this issue, you can search for your nearest stockist here. Better yet call +44 (0) 1904 629 137 or visit the website to subscribe to Aesthetica for a year and save 20% on the printed magazine.

Caption:
Hamish Fulton Walk - Installation view
Turner Contemporary 2012
Courtesy David Grandorge

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Aesthetica February/March Issue Out Today


This issue is centered on exploration and re-examination. We start with the blockbuster retrospective Cindy Sherman show opening at MoMA, which brings together over 180 photographs tracing the artist’s career from the 1970s to the present day. The idea of “innovation in the modern age” is surveyed in the V&A’s British Design 1948-2012 show, which opens this spring.

Lifelike opens at the Walker Art Center and examines artworks based on commonplace objects and situations that question authenticity. This Will Have Been: Art, Love and Politics in the 1980s opens at MCA Chicago, and is a timely re-appraisal of the tumultuous decade from a social, economic and political angle. IMMA Dublin opens Conversations, and we showcase a selection of works from this fascinating show, as well as looking at three photographer’s new series of works.

In film, the Chemical Brothers release Don’t Think, directed by Adam Smith and Marcus Lyall, which skillfully records their performance at Fuji Rocks, Japan. There is also a Q&A with Jes Benstock, director of The British Guide to Showing Off, which brings the Alternative Miss World pageant to the big screen.

In music, we look at Intelligent Dance Music and discuss the love-hate relationship with the term. We also chat with the Staves about being in a band with your sisters and singing backing vocals for Tom Jones. In performance, we look at the rise of puppetry in theatre with the Manipulate Festival.

Finally, Shilpa Gupta discusses her interdisciplinary approach in her new show, Someone Else, which opens at Arnolfini in March.

Pick up your copy today online or from one of our stockists.

The Language of Political Dissent | Lis Rhodes: Dissonance and Disturbance | ICA | London




Text by Paul Hardman

“Touching stories picked from a wound. Positive angles wrenched from their sockets,” reads a pair of lines from Running Light, one of the texts that are collected in the publication Dissonance and Disturbance that accompanies Lis Rhodes exhibition of the same name. Rhodes makes video works, often in response to specific political situations, stories of oppression or injustice that could indeed be said to be picked from a wound. Her work is characterised by a political activism and a powerful aesthetic of grainy high contrast photography, the strength of her images matching the force of her convictions.

At times the format of some of the films moves towards documentary, in one film a voice narrates the story of the bombing of a Palestinian bakery by Israel, alongside photographs of dusty and distraught faces. In other films we are shown images of riot police dragging protesters to the ground. A protesters shoe is left behind as the police literally drag him off his feet. A policeman leans on a man’s head, pushing his face into the floor. However, these are not presented as documentary, and the narrative and subtitles merge stories and text from different sources. Images are blown up to the point of complete abstraction. Rhodes is not aiming for straight telling of factual events but creates a montage of scenes that suggest a dystopia that extends beyond the struggle of any single moment.

Rhodes is an important figure in the development of video art, not only for her work, but for her involvement in the support, showing and distribution of video and film. First in the London Film-Makers’ Co-op, and later through co-founding Circles, that formed to distribute women artists’ film and video in 1979. Circles was founded to work against the marginalisation of women film makers and continued until 1992 when it merged with Cinema of Women to become Cinenova which continues today. This level of commitment and engagement rebukes one possible criticism of her work – applicable to much overtly political art – which is that showing a film about a protest in a gallery only reaches a narrow audience and therefore may be largely irrelevant to whatever the original struggle was about. In fact Rhodes is engaged with her activism on a variety of levels. She is there in the protest documenting the event, and through the films she creates a reflective space in which the brutality of a situation can be considered inwardly in a different context to the spare of the moment atmosphere of the protest.

The exhibition gives a broad view of Rhodes' practice, since it includes pieces from the full length of her career, ranging from 1972 until 2012. The earliest film, Dresden Dynamo, stands out for its experimental abstract nature. The five minute film is an intense blast of clashing patterns running across the screen in different directions, diamonds, stripes, dots, waves, each pattern with its own pulsing scratchy noises that make corresponding sound patterns. Shown in on a screen in a blackened room the effect is fairly overwhelming and has meant the requirement of health warning signs.

The purely sensory nature of Dresden Dynamo is a welcome inclusion as it highlights one of the aspects of Rhodes work that may be neglected otherwise. When watching In the Kettle or Whitehall, which focus on the topical subject of protest, then one may feel that Rhodes is only concerned with finding a way to get a message across, but her work has a visual richness that gives it another dimension. The use of bold compositions in her photographs which fade into each other creates a hypnotic, submerged state, as if she is constructing a dream – a mixture of real experience, news events, fantasies and fears.

The notion of the blurring together of different stories seems to be a key technique which she is developing through her latest work, particularly the installation of In the Kettle (2010), Whitehall (2012), and A Cold Draft (1988), which are displayed together on two screens with a shared soundtrack and no clear division between the beginning and end of the films. She makes connections between power wielded (for example in Whitehall which is of course right behind the gallery) and the effects elsewhere in the world, whether it is the student protesting about the cut of the Education Maintenance Allowance, or the ongoing occupation of Palestine.

This exhibition is enriched by the inclusion of a series of stills mounted on the walls leading up the stairs. These are mostly from early work and show patterns and sequences similar to those in Dresden Dynamo. These perhaps reveal some insight into the working practice of the artists, but they also give a chance to appreciate some of the richness Rhodes squeezes into her films, each frame full of shape and texture.

A long publication of the artist’s writing accompanies the exhibition giving further breadth to the show. Rhodes' writing provides another way in to her work and is full of memorable phrase such as this; “The city multiplies in steel shadows, certainly fabrication contains a deal of truth.” The truth is here in her work, but it is up to the viewer to discover it themselves.

Lis Rhodes: Dissonance and Disturbance, 25/01/2012 - 25/03/2012, Institute of Contemporary Arts, 12 Carlton House Terrace, London, SW1Y 5AH. www.ica.org.uk Running alongside Lis Rhodes is In Numbers: Serial Publications by Artists since 1955.

Aesthetica in Print

If you only read Aesthetica online, you're missing out. The February/March issue of Aesthetica is on sale tomorrow and offers a diverse range of features from an examination of the diversity and complexity of art produced during the tumultuous decade of the 1980s in Art, Love & Politics in the 1980s, opening 11 February at MCA Chiacgo, a photographic presentation of the Irish Museum of Modern Art's latest opening, Conversations: Photography from the Bank of America Collection. Plus, we recount the story of British design in relation to a comprehensive exhibition opening this spring at the V&A.

If you would like to buy this issue, you can search for your nearest stockist here. Better yet call +44 (0) 1904 629 137 or visit the website to subscribe to Aesthetica for a year and save 20% on the printed magazine.

Photography: Mark Blower

Tuesday, 31 January 2012

One Man's Treasure | Creative Stars: Lost is Found | Cornerhouse | Manchester





Text by Liz Buckley

Found Objects have been popular as a medium since Robert Rauschenberg (1925-2008) began experimenting with the discarded and lost in the 1950s. The idea of making something out of nothing was intriguing for many post-war artists. Finding beauty in superfluous scrap is perhaps more challenging than putting paint to canvas, and the new exhibition at Manchester’s Cornerhouse, Creative Stars: Lost is Found, is a celebration of such. Lost is Found is a group show of work from nine artists based in the North of England. The exhibited works find beauty in the redundant and discarded, explore past lives and find new stories in transformations and fleeting identities.

Curated and developed by the Creative Stars, 19 talented young people from the Greater Manchester region, Lost is Found explores themes ranging from the displacement of identity, relics of childhood, secret desires, fragments of memory and traces of history. Brought to life through sculpture, photography, installation and drawing, the exhibition presents itself as a complex network of objects and experiences which act as the building blocks for identity.

Featured works include photography by Lucy Ridges, a visual exploration of intuitive understanding and unexplained meanings. Ridges’ images show fragments of people, as well as parts of bare trees, acutely relating the literal network of branches with the invisible network of imaginative thoughts which make up our everyday lives. This expression of all that can be imaginatively derived from our everyday thoughts and subconscious mind is a common theme in this exhibition, which focuses on the absurdity and often impossibility of a train of thought, a common occurrence in the fast paced life of a human brain.

Jon Barraclough’s All or Nothing graphite drawings are busy scribbles which possess a nest-like quality. Exploring the idea of networking, they are a clever representation of identity. Whilst the drawings could be “nothing”, they indicate the secrecy and personal nature of self, further implied by a blurred outline of a head in one of the two pieces.

One of the most interesting, and perhaps resourceful, inclusions in the exhibit is Richard Proffitt’s Louisiana Blues, Anywhere, an absurd totem of the modern world. Glorifying the found object, this piece uses everything from sticks, scrap metal, fur and light bulbs to fashion a makeshift ceremonial artefact inspired by the biker and teenage subculture, the hinterlands of suburban Britain and the deserts and ghost towns indicative of the American west. While this combination of redundant objects may not function as a bike should, it is certainly a thought-provoking comment on what can be made from what one would normally regard as waste. Displaying Proffitt’s interest in subculture, Louisiana Blues, Anywhere is an emblem of a biker’s way of life, and the disarray of objects and memories which coincide with constant travel.

Lost is Found is certainly a fitting title for this exhibition, as all the included artists have aptly demonstrated that a displacement of identity can often be found by looking to the past rather than the future. Clever "found object" pieces make the viewer question what one usually denotes as a "still life," and literal objects replaced by words bring to light alternative interpretations of accepted reality. Contrasting media is brought together here by shared themes and a desire to bring history back to life, whilst exploring all the fragments of existence, secret mind maps of experiences and misplaced memories that create an identity. The Cornerhouse have certainly presented a reminder for viewers that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure, and that beauty, or sometimes even oneself, can most certainly be found in the discarded.

Lost is Found, 14/01/2012 - 19/02/2012, Cornerhouse, 70 Oxford Street, Manchester, M1 5NH. www.cornerhouse.org

Aesthetica in Print

If you only read Aesthetica online, you're missing out. The February/March issue of Aesthetica is on sale tomorrow and offers a diverse range of features from an examination of the diversity and complexity of art produced during the tumultuous decade of the 1980s in Art, Love & Politics in the 1980s, opening 11 February at MCA Chiacgo, a photographic presentation of the Irish Museum of Modern Art's latest opening, Conversations: Photography from the Bank of America Collection. Plus, we recount the story of British design in relation to a comprehensive exhibition opening this spring at the V&A.

If you would like to buy this issue, you can search for your nearest stockist here. Better yet call +44 (0) 1904 629 137 or visit the website to subscribe to Aesthetica for a year and save 20% on the printed magazine.

Captions:
1. Installation shot, Lucy Ridges
2. Installation shot, Mark Beecroft, Untitled (2010), Dimensions Vary, Mixed Media
3. Installation shot, Emily Speed, egg, nest, home, country, universe (2010)
4. Installation shot, Richard Proffitt, Louisiana Blues, Anywhere (2010), Moped, branches, sheep skull, light bulb, wood, twigs, t-shirts, blu tack, fake fur
All images courtesy the artist and Cornerhouse, Manchester
Photo credits: Paul Greenwood

Monday, 30 January 2012

Aesthetica Art Prize Open for Entries

Aesthetica Magazine is proud to announce The Aesthetica Art Prize, a celebration of excellence in art from across the world. The Aesthetica Art Prize has developed from the Aesthetica Creative Works Competition, and is an invaluable platform for artists of all disciplines and offers the contenders a £1,000 first prize and a group exhibition hosted by the magazine.

Previous finalists include Marcus Jansen, a leading modern expressionist who joins a legacy of artists featuring in Absolut Vodka’s artistic campaigns; Bernat Millet, also shortlisted for the National Portrait Gallery’s Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize, and Julia Vogl, who was shortlisted for New Sensations: Saatchi Gallery and Channel 4’s Prize, and has exhibited at Zabludowicz Collection.

The Aesthetica Art Prize is committed to innovation in the arts and we welcome entries from artists working in all mediums. Artists may submit their work into any one of the four categories:

• Photographic & Digital Art
• Three Dimensional Design & Sculpture
• Painting & Drawing
• Installation and Performance

Main Prize

• £1000 prize money
• A group exhibition in York, UK hosted by Aesthetica
• Editorial coverage in Aesthetica Magazine
• Publication in the Aesthetica Art Prize accompanying publication

Student Prize

• £500 prize money
• A group exhibition in York, UK hosted by Aesthetica
• Editorial coverage in Aesthetica Magazine
• Publication in the Aesthetica Art Prize accompanying publication

Four shortlisted artists and four shortlised student artists (one from each category) will receive a group show in spring 2013 and the final winner will be selected from this shortlist by our panel of judges.

The winners and finalists, as well as a longlist of artists will be published in the accompanying publication to the Aesthetica Art Prize. All artists featured will receive a complimentary copy of this publication.

There are two main categories that artists can enter; the main prize and the student prize. For further information please click on the relevant link below:

Main Prize
Student Prize

The Aesthetica Art Prize is open for entries until 31 August 2012. Click HERE for more information.

Home Grown | The F.E. McWilliam Gallery & Studios | Banbridge | County Down



Text by Angela Darby

Since its inception in 2008 The F.E. McWilliam Gallery has gained an impressive reputation for programming important retrospectives of Irish Modernists and innovative thematic exhibitions. The latest project entitled Home Grown consists of 26 selected artists who have an association to the Banbridge region either through birth or domicile. The curators Dr Riann Coulter and Aoife Ruane, Director of the Highlanes Gallery, Drogheda invited selected artists to "create work in response to the themes of momentum, energy, experience or connection." Within this thematic context the collective works feature a significant contribution from established, internationally known and emerging artists.

Paddy Bloomer's sculpture and video installation The Home Grown Rocket (2011) responds to the destructive removal of whin bushes (gorse), which is seen as a weed within the local farming community. The artist presents an ironic, albeit humorous solution to this discarded vegetation by converting it into rocket propellant. The viewer watches captivated as Bloomer demonstrates step by step how to manufacture and build the rocket using the discarded bushes, a gas cylinder and an empty fire extinguisher. Inevitably the rocket explodes mid-air after launching itself into the sky. Both the artist and the viewer share a brief moment of jubilation at this successful result but as the remnants of the rocket hang futilely in the gallery space there is an epiphany in relation to the concept of the Home Grown Rocket: in the production of energy through the destruction of natural resources, obliteration is the only conclusion.

The relationship of the artist to the town's cartography is a recurring subject explored throughout the exhibition. In Fortress, the artist Robert Peters considers the distorting nature of fear by taking an urban myth from his past in which a concrete block was dropped on someone’s head and merges this with the town's political reputation during the 1970s. Fear dominated the towns’ growth as inhabitants moved there to escape intimidation in neighboring border towns. The artist maps out the borderline of the town with raw materials such as nails and garden string that have then been connected and weighted to a concrete breezeblock. In the work Route to Root by Joanne Proctor, the lines and symbols of the town's map are drawn with ink and intricately embroidered with strands of the artist's own hair. Throughout the duration of the show Proctor methodically sketched the complex microscopic details of a magnified strand of her hair on a large sheet of paper attached to the gallery's wall. The physical interaction of mapping an external space is interwoven with Proctor’s DNA. In A Moment in Time and Route to Root there is a delicate sense of ownership in relation to the environment that the artist inhabits and navigates.

The physicality of knowledge can also be seen in the impressive works by Michael Hanna. His graphite wall drawing What a Friend is formed from the International Phonetic Alphabet, which provides symbols representing all the sounds that can be produced by the human vocal tract. The artists tells us that he is "...interested in using the IPA in my work as it is an international 'language' that does not in itself enable international communication, only analysis". Hanna also displays foam sculptures formally presented within a glass cabinet. Each of the objects’ abstract forms references the key physical components involved in speech: pressure, lubrication, volume/space and flesh. In both cases scientific reductionism replaces meaning with isolated mechanics. In stark contrast to Hanna’s work, Patrick Calhoun presents Foundling a sculptural installation comprised of 25 ceramic heads situated on the gallery floor. Each of the heads poignantly represents a symbolic stage in the artist’s life. The works seem to either ascend or descend out of or into the gallery floor on which they have been placed. Calhoun has severed the heads below the nose rendering them mouth less and this deliberate muteness seems to communicate a melancholic state of reflection. Mark Revels effectively portrays a similar sense of claustrophobic despondency in two small alluring bronze hemispheres on which minute houses are repeated in a pattern of circular, never ending grids.

The relationship to the Banbridge locale is apparent in the works by Jasper McKinney, Mark McGreevy, Joanne Walker and Martin McParland. In the oil painted triptych entitled Yellow Hill to Mutton Hill I, II, III McKinney’s narrative is one of memory as he marries together symbols that represent an historical self-reflection. In the work by McParland entitled Assembling Line the artist focuses on a distant memory of a shoe factory once located opposite the F.E. McWilliam building and is now the site of redevelopment. Through the application of enamel paint on glass the factory’s exterior has been rendered as a fading silhouette; only the shadow of a memory remains.

Artists Dougal McKenzie, Eddie Rafferty, Millie Moore and Lisa Castagner have chosen to exhibit works from their own individual practices. McKenzie’s impressive series of oil on linen paintings reflect upon the political subtext of the Munich Olympics and questions our assumptions within the broader context of the "Games". Eddie Rafferty chooses to document points in a timeline taking his experiences in South Africa as inspiration. An epic moment from the 2010 World Cup, a maidservant in a suburban home and the cliental of a café in Pretoria are all portrayed with accomplished dexterity. The interviewed subject of Castagner’s video documentary Courage, A Heart and A Brain presents an insight into a man obsessed with icons from fantasy films and television programs. His vast collection of non-Caucasian dolls and related ephemera reveal an attraction and preference for African cultures. His enthusiastic commentary and pride in describing each of his collections provides the viewer with a strong impression of the subject’s personality.

With Home Grown, the curators’ courageous decision to seek out artists with association to a specific place has proven to be a valid approach. The quality of the works on display ensures that the exhibition relates to a wide audience beyond the Banbridge location.

Home Grown, The F.E McWilliam Gallery and Studios, 200 Newry Road, Banbridge, County Down, BT32 3NB. www.femcwilliam.com

Aesthetica in Print

If you only read Aesthetica online, you're missing out. The December/January issue of Aesthetica offers a diverse range of features from The Way We Live Now, which is on at the Design Museum, London, to Anselm Kiefer opening at Tel Aviv Museum of Art, to a look at Danser Sa Vie at Pompidou Centre, which examines the place dance holds in art history. Plus it comes with its very own DVD of short films from the Aesthetica Short Film Festival.

If you would like to buy this issue, you can search for your nearest stockist here. Better yet call +44 (0) 1904 629 137 or visit the website to subscribe to Aesthetica for a year and save 20% on the printed magazine.

Captions:
Lisa Castagner, Courage, A Heart and A Brain, Video Still
Paddy Bloomer, Home Grown Rocket, video Still
Paddy Bloomer, Home Grown Rocket, Installation Shot
All Courtesy of FE McWilliam gallery

Blog archive