Sponsor: The d Hotel
A selection of contemporary painting. The exhibition is curated by painter Graham Crowley and includes new and recent work by nineteen artists based in London, Sheffield and Cardiff. The exhibition includes work of artists both emerging and established artists, most of whom are exhibiting for the first time in Ireland.
Kiera Bennett, Simon Bill, Varda Caivano, Michael Crowther, Will Daniels, Adam Dant, Jeffrey Dennis, Geraint Evans, Paul Housley, Ansel Krut, Marta Marcé, Hannah Maybank, Zoë Mendelson, Mali Morris, Sara MacKillop, Julian Perry, John Strutton, Joshua Thomson, Will Turner
Curator’s Gallery Talk: Sunday 19 October at 2:00pm
Graham discusses his curation of the exhibition Precious Things
The exhibition was reviewed by Aidan Dunne, art critic for The Irish Times
Precious Things: a selection of contemporary painting represents an important emerging tendency in contemporary art. For the artists in this exhibition, painting isn’t simply an activity – it is a discourse. Precious Things is a celebration of that discourse(the communication of thought through image and object), sustained by reflection,application, knowledge and insight.
Referred to as post-conceptual painting, the work presented here acknowledges the legacy of conceptual art in a similar way that painting embraced cubism a century ago. This is an important issue. Too often the relationship between painting and conceptual art is wrongly presented as polarised or irreconcilable, but the approach here doesn’t dictate stylistic orthodoxy; on the contrary, it is characterised by diversity and pluralism.
Contemporary art isn’t the same thing as modern art, which is an industry that services celebrity, capital and the mainstream media. This is painting informed by modernism – though it doesn’t always look ‘modern’ – painting which is aware of post-modernism but which eschews irony and replaces cynicism with scepticism. Most of the work in this exhibition displays a sense of the vernacular. The concerns and influences are as varied as the artists and, like so much contemporary painting, it is characterised by reclamation.
Precious Things presents painting that is generous, intelligent, thoughtful, exquisite, painful, celebratory and fascinating. This is not art which seeks approval but art which demands the audience’s reflection and attention. As Donald Parsnips [a.k.a Adam Dant] once said, “Take it or leave.”
Contemporary painting doesn’t always appear as unorthodox as its modernist precursor once did. Neither is it as promiscuous as post-modernism. Nowadays, expressionism is considered cathartic and minimalism retentive – convenient categorisations which aren’t always the case. The problem with these orthodoxies is that the prescriptive tends to become the academic. Precious Things is a tendency, not an academy.
The artists’ involvement in their work is intense; intensely precise, intensely painful, intensely thoughtful and sometimes intensely funny. This is also the kind of painting that doesn’t always use paint.
Over the last ten years, at one time or another, work by all the artists in this exhibition has given me cause to think. They’ve also given me pleasure. Curating this exhibition has been an opportunity to share that pleasure. I want to thank the artists for their generosity in making and lending Highlanes Gallery these Precious Things.
Graham Crowley, September 2008
Graham Crowley was born in Romford, London in 1950. He studied at St. Martin’s School of Art London and the Royal College of Art, London. He has held a number of significant teaching posts, most recently Professor of Painting at the RCA.
He was Chairman of the Board of Selectors for the Jerwood Contemporary Painters Prize in 2007 and is a jury member for the John Moores 25 Contemporary Painting Prize at Liverpool, 2008.
He is represented in several public collections and has exhibited in numerous group shows, winning the ING Purchase Prize at The Discerning Eye Mall Galleries, London 2004. Recent solo exhibitions include Beaux Arts, Bath, 2006 and West Cork Arts Centre, 2008 and he is currently preparing for a solo exhibition in the Ashford Gallery, Royal Hibernian Gallery, Dublin in 2009. In spring 2009, a monograph by Martin Holman on Crowley’s practice will be published by Lund Humphries. Graham Crowley lives and works in Rineen, Co.Cork.
Kiera Bennett was born in 1971 in Oldham, in the United Kingdom. Since leaving the Royal College of Art in 2002 Bennett was involved in creating Rockwell, an artist run gallery and studios in East London, with a group of six other artists (it closed in June 2007). She currently teaches at City & Guilds of London Art School and has also taught as Lecturer in Fine Art at The University of Bedfordshire, Visiting Lecturer at The Ruskin School at the University of Oxford, Norwich School of Art, Camberwell College of Art and through receiving the Cocheme Fellowship at Byam Shaw School of Art.
Kiera Bennett paints places and things she knows. Particular places that inspire fleeting moments of heightened awareness, clarity, fantasy and feelings of solitude or harmony. Landscape has been a recurring theme in Bennett’s work for the last few years, first represented in her intricate paper collages and more recently in large scale paintings – characters, often solitary, both human and animal drift in and out of the work. She implies a narrative but it’s non specific. Bennett sources references from childhood vacations, novels, fairytales and landscape painting to direct experience of contemporary urban and rural landscapes. With this imagery in mind she creates timeless environments that evoke the sublime and pathways that lead us toward the unknowable.
Kiera has exhibited at John Moores Painting Prize 23 at The Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool (2004) and Collage at Bloomberg Space (2004).Recent and forthcoming solo exhibitions includeat Bad Moon Rising at Rockwell Gallery, London (2007)and Fishmarket Gallery, Northampton (2008) and future group exhibitions in 2008 includeThe London Book of the Dead Shop in at St.Pancras Church Crypt, London and in The Future Can Wait at Ellis-Rumley Projects, London.
Simon Bill was born 1958, in Kingstonupon-Thames, England and lives and works in Sheffield, England. He studied art at St. Martin’s School of Art in London and at the Royal College of Art, also in London.
When speaking of his 2004 solo exhibition at Cabinet Gallery in London, UK, Frieze Magazine said You’ve got to wonder about Simon Bill. He paints large, wickedly distorted portraits of former British icons - such as Mr Blobby and the little squeezy-toy Troll guy - in a pastily translucent mixture of oil and dirty wax, like serendipitously congealed puddles of corrupted bodily fluids. Since 2004, Bill has almost exclusively exhibited oval paintings on plywood or mdf board. The subjects of his work are as varied as the materials he uses to create it, which include oil, acrylic, spray, dayglo, blackboard, and glass paints, as well as parcel string, gaffa tape, silicon, permanent markers, different types of foam, emulsion, corn, pva, foil, fabric swatches, wood stains, hair, yacht varnish, modelling paste, drilled holes, fake gems, polystyrene, and wool.
Recent solo exhibitions include The Loved One (2008) at Patrick Painter Inc.in Santa Monica,California, US,Odd (2007) at Figge von Rosen Galerie,Cologne,Germany, Oooh! (2006) at Stuart Shave/Modern Art in London,OOO! (oval paintings) (2006) at Outpost Gallery, in Norwich, and Three Painters: Simon Bill (2002) at The Cornerhouse in Manchester. Simon Bill is represented by Patrick Painter Inc., Santa Monica, California.
Varda Caivano was 1971 born in Argentina and lives and works in London. In 2004 Varda graduated with anMA in painting from the Royal College of Art. Caivano’s intimate and ephemeral imagery evades easy definition. Her works are executed in a precarious manner with a delicate touch and thin paint, often resulting in an evocation or suggestion of the essence of an object rather than an outright depiction. Painting for me is a way of questioning images the artist comments, where visible objects with a secret depth appear to reveal a kind of irrational truth. The paintings operate as a bridge, a transitional space that evokes an inner world. Recent and forthcoming exhibitions include Busan Biennale September-November (2008) M25 Around London, CCA Andratx Art Centre, Majorca, September- November(2008).
Michael Crowther was born St. John’s Chapel, Co. Durham in 1946, and grew up in the West Riding of Yorkshire. He attended Leeds College of Art 1964 to 1968, where he studied painting and sculpture and where he taught in 1968 and 1969. In 1970 Michael was appointed lecturer in Cardiff College of Art. He retired as Head of Painting in 2006 and lives in Cardiff where he works in his own studio.
Solo exhibitions include Serpentine Gallery, London (1975), Hatton Gallery, University of Newcastle-upon- Tyne (1979), Artspace Galleries, Aberdeen (1983), spacex Gallery, Exeter (1984) and Martin Tinney Gallery, Cardiff, (1998).
Adam Dant was born 1967, Cambridge, England and currently lives and works in London.
Dant creates dense, cartoon like drawings, often possessed of a dysfunctional semicircular logic. Mishap and folly proliferate his work. Museums are common subjects, as are maps and complicated jokes. Dant’s works often take the form of wall hung drawings and have been described as Hogarthian or Swiftian especially in relation to his use of satire.
His new work continues Adam Dant’s interest in depicting and interacting with the public space, the anecdotal and Utopian grand models. His previous work includes winning The Jerwood Drawing Prize for his Plan of Tate Britain, The Bureau for the Investigation of the subliminal Image, founding the City of London’s livery company,The Guild of Neologists and acting as an 18th century style pamphleteer in the production and distribution ofDonald Parsnips Daily Journal from 1995-2000. Dant’s drawings can be found in numerous public and private collections including The Arts Council Collection, The V&A, MOMA New York, Deutsche Bank, The Museum of London, The Government Art Collection, The Musee d’Art Contemporain Lyon and San Diego Museum of Art.
Adam says of the work exhibited at Highlanes Gallery-I made this series of drawings in Cafés in Paris. They all depict various types of Parisian café seating each of which serves as a realm for small insects (mostly flies) to enact various activities, labours, pleasures, struggles etc. There are as many drawings in the series as there are cafés visited which must be around about 20-25. There was a big exhibition on at the Natural History Museum at the time called Les Mouches which may have had something to do with the drawings of chairs being turned into narrative scenes in such a fashion. The drawings are not intended to imply that we are all like ants in any way.
William Daniels was born 1976 in Brighton, England. Based in London, he produces oil paintings that recreate iconic historical works - portraits, landscapes, nudes, etc - using as subjects rough maquettes constructed from waste card and paper.The paintings reflect each detail of the models cuts, tears and folds, lending a solidity and permanence to the otherwise throwaway ephemeral materials used to construct each maquette. For instance, his William Blake II is based on the Thomas Phillips portrait of William Blake. Other works recreated include Carravaggio’s David with the Head of Goliath,Courbet’s L’Origine du monde, and The Abbey in the Oak Wood by Casper David Friedrich.
William Daniels’ slow process of working from reproductions seems to deliberately play with traditions of painting and the notion of the artist present before his subject. His paintings appear to be faithful copies of original masterpieces but are in fact genuine studies derived from life. His most recent work looks at more contemporary references such as landscapes by Cezanne and Baselitz. He has shown work in many exhibitions including Waste Material at The Drawing Room, London (2005); The Darkest Hour at Leisure Club, Mogadishni, Copenhagen (2005); William Daniels at Marc Foxx, Los Angeles (2008); and William Daniels & Fiona Jardine at the Transmission Gallery, Glasgow, (2006). He is represented by Vilma Gold in London and Marc Foxx in Los Angeles.
Jeffrey Dennis was born in 1958 in Colchester, England and lives and works in London. He studied at the Slade School of Fine Art. His paintings embed glimpses of contemporary urban life within landscapes of processed peas, rotting fruit, Victorian wallpaper designs and, more recently, the ‘bubblescape’: an organic matrix which seems to offer the potential for continual mutation and evolution. He was recently selected for the international annual survey of contemporary art, Eastinternational (2007) at Norwich, and his most recent solo exhibition is at Art Space Gallery, London, (2008).
His work has appeared three times in the John Moores Exhibition of British Painting, at the Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool (1993, 1997, and 1999), and featured in theBritish Art Show 3, (1990); the first touring survey exhibition to acknowledge the importance of the recent work of young artists in the UK. He has, however, been exhibiting internationally since 1979, including regular shows at Salvatore Ala in Milan and New York (1984 to 1993), solo shows in London at Whitechapel Art Gallery (1986) and Anderson O’Day (1994) and New Voices, an exhibition of new contemporary British artists that toured worldwide (1991-7). He was a nominated artist for the Paul Hamlyn Foundation New Visual Arts Awards (1998).
He was Tutor in Fine Art at The Ruskin School, University of Oxford (1991-7), and is currently a Senior Lecturer on the BA Fine Art Course at Chelsea College of Art and Design, University of the Arts, London.Jeffrey Dennis, Outside Broadcast, 2005, 20x30cm, courtesy of the artist and Artist Space, London.
Geraint Evans graduated from the Royal Academy Schools in 1993.Tom Morton describes Geraint Evans’ paintings as human works on a human scale which present the viewer with a choice between the suburbs and the mountains, between torpor and pointlessly aiming for the top. (It’s Nothing Special catalogue essay for Geraint Evans’ solo exhibition, CASA, Salamanca, Spain, 2003). Evans agrees with this assessment - I describe a landscape populated by hobbyists, enthusiasts, artists, naturists and suburban social climbers who appear to embrace the resigned limitations of suburban and provincial life, as they aspire to match the unobtainable feats of much admired role models.My narrative driven paintings depict the simulated and constructed landscapes that are often found within the city and which offer safe and yet possibly aspirational encounters with ‘authentic’, uncultivated nature.
His work has been included in group exhibitions at The Approach, London; The City Gallery, Prague and The Whitworth, Manchester. He was awarded the Pollock-Krasner Foundation Award (2003), was a shortlisted artist in the John Moores 23 at the Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool (2004) and recently won jointsecond prize at the John Moores 25 (2008). He lives and works in London and is Pathway Leader for Painting at Wimbledon School of Art.
Paul Housley was born in 1964 in Greater Manchester and educated at Tameside College of Technology, at Sheffield Polytechnic, completing an MA in Painting at the Royal College of Art. He has shown extensively in Europe and the US and has a forthcoming solo show at the Wilkinson Gallery London in November, 2008.
Paul has been awarded a number of fellowships including the Berwick Gymnasium (1987) and Durham Cathedral (2004).
My work plays around with the notions of traditional genres. It exists somewhere between portraiture and still life. I work from a collection of objects gathered over a period of time. These objects/figures are usually placed in the traditional portrait format thus merging and confusing the two genres. I try to convey something of the human condition within these “dumb” substitute figures, with a kind of melancholic tension arising from these inanimate objects returned gaze demanding some kind of recognition of “Life”.Recently, I have started making my own figures and objects to work from.
Ansel Krut was born in Cape-Town in 1959. After two years studying medicine he took his BA in Painting at Wits University, South Africa, followed by an MA in Painting at the Royal College of Art, London. He was awarded a scholarship to the British School at Rome in 1986 and spent a further three years in Italy before traveling to the US and finally settling in London. Exhibitions include John Moores 14 (1985) where he was a prize-winner and John Moores 23 (2004). He has three solo exhibitions at Domobaal Gallery since 2004, most recently Hotel Vinegar (2006) and a solo project at Next, invitational fair, Chicago (2008) and Songs of Love and Hate at Ancient and Modern, London (2008) Just World Order at Artsway in Hampshire (2008) and Voodoo at Riflemaker, London in October 2008. He is represented by Domobaal Gallery, London.
Ansel Krut’s paintings, without being autobiographical, reflect something of both his life and his evolution as a painter. The recent works are painted in as matter a fact way as possible; there is no attempt to disguise their manufacture. The space is kept shallow and imagistic, the drawn qualities are accentuated, the colours are rude and unmodulated. Many of the images are of heads, not portraits exactly, being constructed out of mundane or household objects, or only partly biological, but borrowing from the portrait repertory of implied realism and the excavation of character. Janus-like they look several ways simultaneously, inwards at the history of their making and outwards also, towards the viewer.
Marta Marcé was born in Barcelona in 1972. She attended Facultat de Belles Arts, Barcelona and the Royal College of Art, London. Recent solo exhibitions include Diadem Paintings at Riflemaker (2007) and Is this abstraction? (residency) at Camden Arts Centre (2007). Group exhibitions includes Jerwood Painting Prize 2001, Jerwood Space, London,Marta Marce: Recent Work (with Sigmar Polke), Milton Keynes Gallery (2001),New British Painting Part I, John Hansard Gallery, Southampton (2003) and she was included in John Moores 23 (2004) and John Moores 25 (2008).
I have an interest in the notion of play as a metaphor for how society operates. We live in a time where all is getting more structured, planned, and controlled. It seems a complex group of games with rules and laws that everybody needs to follow but at the same time there always are rule-breakers to the system.
I am exploring how games can function in a similar parallel way and the relation to my work. As well as in painting, games have space and time limitations, also decision-making and chance are involved. I am interested in how these diverse elements can inform my creative production of artwork.
Hannah Maybank was born in Stafford in England in 1974. She was educated in Liverpool John Moores University and the Royal College of Art, London. Recent solo exhibitions include Hatton Gallery, Newcastle, (2008); ArtSway, Hampshire (2008); Gimpel Fils, London (2005); The New Art Gallery, Walsall, (2005); Queen Street Studios Belfast, (2004).
These works explore the sculptural potential of paint, employing natural motifs to depict paint’s physical nature. The paintings are constructed by layering acrylic over ‘pocket’ of latex. The ‘composition’ is revealed by stripping away areas of latex to show areas behind the surface. Swathes of paint are often left hanging to echo aspects of life, growth and decay, but also to reveal the cyclical process in which the paintings are made.
Zoë Mendelson was born in London, in 1976 where she still lives. She studied Painting at Chelsea College of Art and at the Royal College of Art, London. Recent solo exhibitions includeHeadspace,Collections de Saint Cyprien, France (2008); In-patient, Plane Space Gallery, New York (2007); Archival Loot, Gas gallery, Turin, Italy (2007), and recent group exhibitions include Waaaaoohh!, Crac Alsace, France, (2008); Oh Vienna, Two-person show with Joel Tomlin at Transition, London (2008); Ophelia’s World, Kunst Galleria Museo, Bolzano, Italy, (2007), The Square Root of Drawing, Gallery Temple Bar, Dublin (2006).
I create intricately drawn, collaged and painted dreamscapes occurring on paper, walls, and within communication devices and antique furniture. With conflicting roots in decoration and the functionality proposed by Modernist thought, these dislocated narratives play off intimations of desire, discomfort and reason. The works relate to each other archivally. Furniture pieces become museological and have the irritating arrogance of weight and historical association. My paper works are flimsy in feel but meticulously made, alluding to workings out or chronicling of thought-processes. Wall-drawings and installations are fleeting and performative-making them feels akin to building elaborate sandcastles before a high tide. The different media become vehicles for shifting notations of histories/case studies. They are linked thematically and by the same labour-intensity regardless of temporality.
Through embellished worlds, I manipulate idealised spaces and gentility employing their codes as a cover for erotic excess and psychiatric ‘disorder’. Evoking acquisitive excesses of Victorian imperialists and collectors, my images draw on or falsely adopt the significance of relics, often gathered together and displayed in the environs of a sham museum, entrapped within customised antique furniture.
Mali Morris was born in North Wales and studied Fine Art at the Universities of Newcastle upon Tyne and Reading. Her first major solo exhibitions were at the Serpentine Summer Show 3, London (1977) and the Ikon Gallery, Birmingham, (1979). She has shown extensively since then in twenty-five solo shows, and has taken part in many group exhibitions, at Whitechapel Art Gallery, Serpentine Gallery, Hayward Gallery, and the Barbican in London, at the Walker Art Gallery, in Liverpool, and a number overseas. There have been three solo shows in Tokyo (2000, 2004 and 2005) and two at Robert Steele Gallery Project Room, New York (2005, 2007). Angel Row Gallery Nottingham organized a touring show in 2002-3. Mali Morris: Work From Four Decades was at the Poussin Gallery, London, (2005) and Mali Morris: New Paintings (2008).
Mali Morris’s work is in private, corporate and public collections worldwide, including the Arts Council England, British Council, Contemporary Arts Society, Government Art Collection, and the Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester. She has received awards from the Arts Council England, British Council, DAIWA Anglo-Japanese Foundation, GLAA, Elephant Trust, with Research Awards from the University of Reading and Chelsea College of Art and Design, and the Lorne Award. In May 2007 she was a prizewinner at Creekside Open x 2, selected by Emma Biggs and Matthew Collings.
She has taught and examined at many departments of fine art, including the University of Reading, Royal College of Art, Slade School of Art, and Chelsea College of Art and Design, University of the Arts, London, where she was Senior Lecturer in Painting from 1991–2005.
Mali Morris lives and works in London.
Sara MacKillop was born in 1973 in Bromley, London. She graduated from the Royal College of Art, London, in 2001. Her work was first seen in Toronto in Provisional Worlds at the Art Gallery of Ontario in 2002. The same year she had her first solo show in London at the Keith Talent Gallery. MacKillop’s work has been featured in group shows in England, France, Italy, New York and Brooklyn. Recent exhibition include The Long Take, Moot, Nottingham;
Recently she has been critically recognised with a new generation of British artists such as Iain Kiaer, for the subtle economy of her work. MacKillop’s ‘barely there’ aesthetic draws wittily on the traditions of Modernism and the overlooked formal attributes of slightly obsolete everyday objects.
Julian Perry was born 1960 in Worcester, England. He studied in Maidenhead and Bristol Art Colleges. He has had exhibitions and lectures across Europe and US. There are many examples in public and private collections, including Museum of London, Bristol City Museum, Collection of HRH Prince of Wales and Forbes Collection (US). He has had over two hundred group exhibitions and ten one persons shows. He has won many prizes including both Arts Council England and British Council Awards. He is represented by Austin Desmond Fine Art London.
My works in this show record subtle interventions in the landscape that characterise nature reserves and allotment gardens. By selecting particular and sometimes mysterious subjects I hope to create emblematic celebrations of lives unseen.
John Strutton was born in Bedfordshire in the England in 1966. He studied at Middlesex University, London, at the Royal College of Art, London. Currently Senior Tutor in Painting at the Royal College of Art, London, he formed The Band of Nod in 1999 and is co founder/director of 39, a project space in London. Since 2005 he has been writing and performing in his band Arthur Brick.
The Band of Nod is a loose collective of artists and musicians that perform shambolic and frenzied songs on acoustic guitar and kazoo. The hand painted guitars, banners, costumes, posters and video/photographic documentation form a visual archive, which is often displayed at their performances. 39 is a project space that invites artists to respond to a request in order to construct a collaborative installation. Shows have involved asking participants to build a bird box through to painting pub signs.
Recent solo exhibitions include Dumb Tings, Coleman Projects, London (2008) (collaboration with Stephen Dunne); Nos Cunctus Comitatus Nod, 39, London (collaboration with Alan Miller) (2005) and group exhibitions include Parkhaus, Kunsthalle Düsseldorf, Germany (2008) and Chaime Soutine, Happy Sailor Tattoo Parlour and Barbican Centre, London (2004).
Joshua Thomson was born in 1977 in York, England and lives in London. He studied at the University of Wales and the Royal College of Art, London. Recent solo exhibitions incude The Instruments of Oblivion, The Fishmarket, Northampton (2007) and The Institute of Ape Culture 42, Notting Hill, Lomdon; group exhibitions include Freezing Art Fair, The Fishmarket, Northhampton, and Drawing Breath 10 Years of the Jerwood Drawing Prize International Tour of Australia and the United Kingdom, Performance – Fabric of a nation, IDEO, Clerkenwell, London, (2005), Performance/ Screening-Periphal Visions Symposium, Cork Film Centre, Cork (European City of Culture,2005), Anti-Antiques (Bowieart)/ Portobello Film Festival-Westbourne Studios, London (2005).
Will Turner was born in 1977 in the United Kingdom and lives and works in London. He studied at Chelsea College of Art and the Royal College of Art. He has participated in numerous group exhibitions and art fairs in the UK and in Europe. Recent solo projects include Canyon at Mogadishni Gallery (2007) and Fragile States at Guy Bartschi Gallery (2008). He was selected for the Jerwood Contemporary Painters in 2007. He is represented by Mogadishni Gallery in Copenhagen, Denmark and Guy Bartschi Gallery in Geneva, Switzerland.
Exceptional craftsmanship and trashy pop imagery collide in Will Turner’s collages. Composed of coloured card or perspex, Turner painstakingly hand carves or laser cuts his multi-layered works to reveal 3D pictures. The subject matter appeals to the sensibilities of an audience, which spent its formative years playing in bands, watching zombie movies and eating junk food.
The true magic, however, is to be found in the way that these icons of youth and young manhood are presented. At first glance, the vibrantly coloured images speak a language of mass production and Americana. But upon closer inspection and when viewed from varying angles, the care and artistry reveals itself in the numerous levels which have been created. It could be argued then, that these collages have more in common with the artisan than the production line and they force us to question the nature of desire and consumption. The excitement of Turner’s work lies in the leap from the familiar to the unexpected and in the discovery that things of real beauty can be inspired by the most unlikely of subjects.