Platform Arts+Engine Room Gallery end of 2019 show

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The Gallery explains

An end of year show is a challenge for artists and attendees alike. The entry point is for the artist confining their conversation to one item or piece. Some find it irresistible to go triptych or expand a theme. Beginning middle and end. Other artists, and I will return to a particular energised and totally consuming piece later, @ERG, distill an immediate point in the journey of creating art by signalling an epic piece they can’t contain or control within a show or gallery devoted to the work they have in the past year or longer. They have created a theme which they are committed to and continue to approach with nuance and exposition of stages or a stage in learning and added towards a very involved and very involving set of conjunctions which are all the better for seeing in the care taken in collating the process.

There are even the individual ease of conscious pieces. The piece that is an expression of the soul at ease and visual visible contentment with the form of making art and communicating across a range of experiences and expectations. In writing this corrective text through up a word close to but not the one you are seeking but the temptation and I do not discard it, is to use it to elucidate on the subject being addressed. There is a common shape to the artists vein and implies that is physical and abundant in its delivery of energy. A compact.

The View Platform Arts Belfast Members Show

Gallerist type paintings appear. The paintings of painting and these are forms of colour which are a difficult ‘oeuvre’ a favourite word Van Gogh used while learning his own use of colour.

There are floor art pieces one being an all seeing robot home floor cleaner and in an attempt to stop sabotage or intended pet surveillance carrying a dash cam which is low strung video no one will ever watch.

The white wall has a screen sometimes awake to show the domestic dust gathering excursions. Belfast City Council will have their eye on this and the leaf gathering and tins, bottles and crisp packets can inform urban and city life. It can become a streaming service and you get to see the poo and street level debris those commuted and conscientious street sweepers deal with on a daily basis is not unreal. One thing it is essential not to do is flatter as sooner or later you will have no critical aim, and it is helpful I think for different views to emerge while bringing more thought and questioning that eventually a higher level of observance and recognition of a work or piece is obtained. So that requires an attitude independent of all others.

Give a dog a bomb.

Seeing sculpture with a beer in your hand can be frightening occasionally. Reading the piece no.14 Gerard Carson – Landarmour 2019 – you alight on the idea of its nearness to primordial warfare. It is a piece so well conceived and directed the balance of this thin animalistic form all bones and little steel junctions animated is pressing ahead, while static, assuming a hatred and visible increasing acerbic intent. In the canine form of a head the delicate touch of a golden bomb is clenched sausage like, a wire leading from behind it to the clenched imposters jaw.

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The strain in a heartbeat – for the work is able to throw instant ideas and assemblages of thought at you – is of knowing this is a simple well balanced object created to imitate a widely held fear and up close and personal unintended closeness. You are witness to imminent fatal savageness. Can you recall the piece seems to ask the walk home or in a crowd on a bridge a stranger appear and you see there is a bomb in its jaw. Then there is the white chain. That sign it is danger freed. The white links tethering it broken and the ideas adding layers of unprotection. Clear and present danger. Is there a phrase to capture it? No justice is here? Why me? The work is on the one hand aimed at disconcerting amusement in the sum of its parts while in the other taking that device and throwing at you an immensity of fear. It may not create distress given the location and knowledge art is its collateral, it nevertheless surprises even mildly shocks that the pieces title leads you towards.

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Alliteration
Painting is a recurring and thankfully continuing form used by current young artists. There is one of those triptych type installations. no.1 Jill Quigley Funhouse 2019 – being first a dibond print painting unhung but propped with the centrepiece a grid of screen prints on paper of pictures of decorators, with separate primary colour paper taped to each other as a gallery of paint in progress. Then the third elect which was 9 stacked acrylic painted abstracts.

They each were fine small boards but became a very enlivened image as it was apparent each board was not connected to the next unlike the taped middle piece but relying on staggered lines of 3 belonging together as a group but none having any connection other than abstraction to any other. The presence of all 3 is placed in a corner this gallery has history in. A Hugh Mulholland piece simple folded sheet I remember perfectly accepting the genus loci of the space – being around the corner.

Stillness
The painting element gained a strong presence in 2 expressionist works of places. One no.16 Jess Gunn Midnight panic 2019 – a large room informally defined overview with a empty loom type chair.

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The closeness to the lightly flat shapes were warming and inviting a story. The geometry an important and strong lever to getting into this scene. The other is a small and square object based view of a place. The industry of high contrast colour of inhabited space deliver a simple form of shapes that informally suggest a garden corner with brickwork, stool, leaning pad and plant pot giving this impression.
It is a confident and lovely work showing a lightness of touch and some gravitas concerning defining or inhabiting a place possibly to obtain enjoyment. The thing I see most is the discover many new artists take of avoiding decoration.

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The absence of fine point pattern, detail, exactness, being a thing of digital images that when joined with painting – Des Edwards is an exponent of that arresting potential – see ERG no.7 Wormhole II – are themselves amazing so this is on the journey that dispels the past and states a local and intimate image that is really the interior mind. That being the imaged observation made by the artist of a place in now or a future seen. Is there a Paula Rego angst waiting to be revealed?

Small room spaces alight
The references are fine transmuting landscapes and figures laden onto a wild physical form. In some you see the trees and building farms with light falling on fields or streams brown on blue. Light coming through as sketched outline and as blurred background. All is calm reflection rather than problematic to look at and the names give some context for the story held. In no.24 Lianna McKinney Riverbank I saw the shapes tell tales of solitude in several rural guises. There are many pieces in the room all worth exploring. no’s. 18 > 25.

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Timber refined
In the quest to find a reason for accumulating things – ‘…of a problem of material insistence’. came in work no.11 Damien Magee

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An infinite curve showing a collaboration of materials that became a uniform assembly of very separate things. On the wall is a transparent manifestation of a grid as a backdrop to a form of order. In front is an artists easel, clasped in its clamps a series of itemised cassette covers ranges in accordance with size. They create a beautiful frontispiece in this summation of collections things and are posited as art in that easel. The frame is beginning to unfold the narrative of material very conversationally. We all are collectors of something or other. Something or other. The leaden words of hoarding. Here the accumulated elements are set as figures in the world of content. Where are the artists and music of these cassette memories. Elsewhere and alongside to complete the picture is a seat that fascinated me through its obscure though entirely reasonable engineering. I love the use of sustainable constructions and this was the winning element to my consc c

What it is, is a seat or bench made with sourced birch or sandalwood, a strong kiln dried wood which has through the economies of cutting created different sizes – around an inch to two inches and lengths then layered as and bonded to a layer below with the purposed random selection assembled to create a strong flat deck. It is separated by a gap, a split in the centre and the frame it sits on is of the same form of construction. The splayed legs are also timber engineered by bonding with the whole being a piece of fine contemporary furniture.

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I once had to recreate a huge Church (hyperbolic paraboloid shaped) roof using the same technology. In that case it was forming the roof edge structures by Glulam beams and rarely used since the popularity of its modernist use in the sixties, 20c. It not only created a lightweight self structuring roof form relatively quickly, it created a large clear floor plan.  There is a new mosque in Cambridge (Cambridge Central Mosque £23m) that has a roof supported by a spread of timber columns radiating that do not work in a sustainable way nor excel as a device to create wide spans but are for effect.

A different timber engineering company (Japanese) has recently bought 40% of Manchester’s Urban Splash and that signals the technology growth and this time sustainably. They use a laminated beam to make good design work as residential forms. It’s highly ingenious and brings many types – they don’t use a hyperbolic paraboloid roof but maybe someday as a large span several storey height complex.

There is a theme here which is seen in a similar way in the work here below.

https://www.jmkac.org/exhibition/2018/unseen-forces/blagdon

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Emery Blagdon was a pioneer of the subjective sculptural and painting combinations that evolved through, in his case a feeling of incapacity to heal himself his ailing mother.  This is not a widely held expression of the reasons behind his work but I see it in this and even the Peter Mooney work you will read about further on in this blog.

The ‘Wiki’ on Emery tells us he was born aged 112!  This could prove to be correct.

……. Description Emery  O. Blagdon was an American artist. Wikipedia
Born: 25 July 1907 (age 112 years), Callaway, Nebraska, United States

‘He added brightly colored paintings with concentric circles and angular lines to serve as generators or reflectors of natural forces, an essential part of The Healing Machine’s overall structure. Blagdon believed the static charges and the emanating aura of these entities exuded curing properties for those experiencing intense physical and emotional suffering.

Blagdon’s artist-built environment makes visible the power of belief and the complexity of human emotion.‘

On Platform and this exhibition 

There is undoubtedly in this form of art elements of ‘Raw Art’ I see in this new work.  While clearly all the pieces are not in this vein and cannot be extrapolated in a general view like this I found there were works that required some further comparisons.  The story is almost always a human reaction to the world and it’s often portrayed in Art History as belonging to the psychotic or disturbing preoccupations of mental illness and often confinement.  This could also be described as confinement art.  Art of the imprisoned mind.  The physical and spiritual fixitude.  Nevertheless it destroys the notion of the wider notions and parallels existing in other art.  Vincent Van Gogh and other explorative painters and sculptors.  Even Pablo Picasso was an enfant terrible in his anxiety of purpose. His furrowed brow told you this.

After WWII, art of the insane gained support from European artists as a reaction against the Nazi condemnation of Degenerate Art in 1937. Dubuffet continued his research and began to look at artworks from prison inmates, psychics, and autodidacts, which had a direct influence on the development of his art. From the 1950s through the 1960s Dubuffet resided in the United States and brought along some artworks from his Art Brut Collection; this lead to the developing American interest in this specific art form.

This is a clear connection of abstraction with in Emery Blagdons case, using materials and forms he called kinetic, from the main body of contemporary work never made connective.  Here is an example.

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More Emery Blagdon works –

The previous Platform Art exhibition – Paul Hallahan and Lee Welch, reviewed in a previous blog, was not inclusive of installation pieces but it was an example of this essential dilution of thought compressed energetically into work will avoiding the figurative realism and representative interpretation of place or volumes.  That is near to the famous work The Healing Machine.  It is as if we are locked into, when viewing art the healing machine accessed by and through art and artists.

The Engine Room Gallery

The chance for Engine Room Members and Artists to once again revisit and introduce new work was skillfully displayed as always.  There is plenty of space to see the work mostly painting hung in the professional way Cliff Brooks as Chief Curator always provides.

This Gallery has had a huge stable year in producing very good shows and opportunities for long established and young artists alike.  The generosity of spirit is a very important conrtributor to the whole of work on these islands and encourages new work to be seen in a democratic setting.

I refered eaelier to a piece which is in touch with the material consumption we are a complicit, some not all authors of.   The medium of Gallery Art Work is a constant litmus test.  Ranging from the eccentricity of Austin Clarke and his controlled anger at the panoply of values stacked and falling in the worlds destructive direction made real. Marmite is just one outlook.

Painted Man

Peter Mooney should never be underestimated indeed his work should often be lauded as it speaks to us in a rich and provocative while gentle ‘ouerve’ always enlightening to look at and think about.  No less this piece.  no.37. Construction.

Other work and I will given more time put up further commentary on is in abundance here.

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There have been many good shows in Northern Ireland this year and I’ve written only about a few with other responses writing about an artists work in direct communication. What I have to raise is one Exhibition made a lasting impression was at Ps2 part performance and part a work conceived and relating to the interior and location it was presented in on Royal Avenue.

A powerful year Ps2
This is life and no a fantasy by Ieva Rojūtė March/April 2019.
The Lithuanian artist brought a connection across inspiring thoughts on the conditions and lives, and not only the transitory fragile harmful journey of East Europeans but sole for all in these times when political as well as the economic migration Ireland has too long been immersed in, it delivered a radiance and hope of human nature. By focusing on the person and through the experience the Gallery put the artist into was a fantastic enlivening and spiritual recognition of human strengths and resilience while tragedy often overcomes the person sometimes on the slightest thing and finally so.
I was very impressed at how Ps2 and Ieva Rojūtė levered into the space these thoughts and the practice of the artist was very well considered and utterly conscious of the world rstate in this minute space.
The art of the familiar shown as a guide bearing witness on multiple diverse journeys.

Ieva Rojūtė has work that expands and explores this widely on many forms and types of media. A cultural exchange is the process but that itself is a consequence of the today media access and it’s as if the person is as the doors of reconciliation in Dublin’s St Patrick’s Cathedral speak through a door and a hand put through the closed to the other side to symbolise a change and reconciliation. It gave rise to the expression chancing your arm which nowadays is less conciliatory but slang removing the original meaning.

All views are my own in this essay.

John Graham

11 December 2019

Belfast

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Catalyst Arts + Platform Art’s – November 2019

Past pleasures

November has come and gone and plans to get a blog out were thawrted and put aside but having started I think it worthwhile to put across what I observed and some reaction to the very good shows is to be put in writing along with some visual elements from the shows.

I take a long external look at the needs of art and how responses are so important to us in this and other times.

First is foremost
Whatever you conceive of as a concept it becomes a philosophy by being first ‘a specifically philosophical groundwork acquired through original self-activity, and therewith that firmness of basis, that genuineness of root which alone makes real philosophy possible.’

It is fascinating the syntax of language in forming the above view is heavily grammatically dependant on instilling adjectives which are themselves from nature. The beginning is based in the reality of known things such as ‘groundwork’, ‘activity’, ‘root’. The core is this use age which enables visualisation and connection to an idea which is never seen until the expression of it. Paint is the same in its development and execution of internal ideas.
The invisible Kantian standpoint of an a priori point of it existing before the present becomes a transcendency.

Patterns are the evolution microbial atom generator and the invisibility is the lock which holds the structure of existence together and in continual metamorphosis. So many artists are pattern seekers and evolve beyond that to contain pattern by dislodging the media to create another element.

With Athenite precision the artist has got hold of an idea which contains two parts. One is the unseen part and fanciful (not at all used in a derogatory way) but the construction manifesting other events. The Second is the fluid substantial existence of a manifest part. The actual physicality and production of the piece. It is experienced in a time portion while altering through its own structures of connections which Thirdly we stand apart from and linearly observe. When we are gone it continues as something other.
So there are in actual fact three not two parts.

Platform First

There is a unique moment of confluence, a meeting of ideas and about the coming together of factors or ideas. With an important harmony in Platform Gallery the works individual and combined of Paul Hallahan and Lee Welch show development is a matter of choice and is able to form from separate choices. How this is effected is not the point but it is neither unimportant this synergy is playing out with the work of different artists.
In a busy remorseless cascading visual feast in all media – print and font are implicit in having us observe an image or product. Here there is refuge from overindulgent and a coat of many colours identity crisis projected in abstract expressionism.

The certitude of form and editorial is harnessed with skill and amplitude by both artists. Seeing these paintings has a zen effect and a kind of primordial response as it seems they convey aim the chosen restrictions on marks and even in Lee Welch’s formative native kind of expression leads you on a journey forward but also and more so in the basic origins of pictorial sensitivity. By not approaching the tropes of restoration and period art they employ a vision of familiar participants in art.

Paul Hallahan has developed a water based approach devoid of rush or sudden instant immersion by using that watery transfer of colour in a fluid orchestral way. He has said he often paints with music as a soundscape. It could be fast in tempo or pastoral and it’s not necessary to know but it indicates the phenomenology of painting in a continuity of deliver of what inspires to what we are responsive to. Time is therefore another aspect and the work has a form in advance but fluctuations as it evolves it would appear.

Paul Henry is a reference point as is Grace Henry who is supposed to have combined the paint palette for the condition of colour blindness that only became publicly known sometime after his passing. The implication is that the essence of colour and the loss of sight by Monet and Matisse made them obtain aspects of their art no less beautifully formed as we appreciate those as well as the untroubled – can they be called ‘sight paintings’? They would have painted the tones of the day, where they were in the light preferred as observed and dusk daylight dawn, were in all parts equal.

Choosing to work in minimal ways the exchange of tones is enlivened beyond colour comprehension and maybe stimuli of full colour is set aside for another more subtle and in some sense moving flowing confluence akin to ‘event’ ‘occurence’ and not derivative of symbolic figurative themes. It is in my fires more a case of taking familiar art history themes and advancing current contemporary messages as visual – that word again I’m afraid! – confluences.

This essence is apparent in both artists with the combined work and its admirable the suspect ego often carried in creative work as a driver is confidently never present in canvases that are again taking colour and absences – Lee Welch has as colour the canvas chosen to be worked and both enjoy the informality and microbial speech patterns of canvas. It is even more enjoyed when you realise this exhibition is in a former line house trade building and flax colour is very provocative with the light poring in from the Antrim Hills beyond Belfast where the bleaching process took place to end up as finished damask in these trading and storage facilities.


When you look at the canvas there is a sense of journey intended or otherwise implied where damask and silver tableware is symbolic as it is tiny in the ‘period’ leanings of art history and patronage seen in several paintings. That is remarkable and what Gerard Carson’s recently passed father Cairan would have seen as that complex thing Happenstance. Really remarkable as the work in the Gallery shows. The work is an essay in show – the word show. The directness and need to or not to analyse the work is the appearance for our pleasure and experience to behold. There is communication on many levels in all the work.

In the small space there is the video installation of Paul Hallahan’s dog who has passed away. She is a pure bred Black Labrador retriever and is seen from beyond the grave. It is a homage to a well known and sadly missed and wonderful artist and person William McKeown who passed so young. His partner arranged the showing of a film in his honour of his ‘howling’ dog at a memorial and today his work is on show at Talbot Rice Gallery Edinburgh. Notable simplicity and connections can be made.

Catalyst Arts November

Hyperobjects Catalyst Arts until 5 December 2019

This exhibition has 10 contributors. 1 of which is the archive of Art Research Matters,and artists define the space as a unit of material examinations very attuned to the wastefulness alongside natural productivity of earth’s compass. It is enthralling and exotically bewildering as the newness of each action is absorbed in time. I will not dwell on too many pieces as the whole is comprehensively covered in a Catalyst Arts well written exhibition note as following on from – as a logical exposition of the joint Arts Research Matters (the meaning is fluid) with among others Platform Arts – the Timothy Morton hyperobject Styrofoam. I loath the word while it represents a hideous amalgam of architectural, construction utility devoured in multiple global buildings and often adored homeware pieces.


In the case of Jez riley French a performance of dissolving music into found objects and tailing his own sonic collection was a great event in it arriving as a soft piece of gentle and intrinsic intricate of how sound exists everywhere. In silent places unvisited using his much loved and Attenborough films and multiple geographies of screen and exhibition spaces. The detail is from his dissolving in acid ancient glacier rock and we hear the release of the trapped air from millions of years ago. It is symbolic of the dissolution of our existence and elsewhere in the Catalyst Arts space the combination of objects is the counter and opposite narrative. By hearing this dissolve in the library of other sounds the ecology of our universe is made real again in art form. Matmos is an artist video with the music developed an relayed through video and the plastic contained in an album sleeve alongside for posterity.

Then the glass containers the sound was mixed in are sitting still and some osmosis is carrying on. of Slime Dynamics II. Jasmin Märker

The opposite narrative is explored by Jasmin Märker has a derivation which is scientific and natural. It’s described limitingly as bio-art. By the combining of elements, some already composed from other chemicals like those combined to make plaster, fertiliser, there is an exploration of what happens when these elements (the list of others contains foraged mushrooms, oat bran, common house spider along with other ‘objects’). It has the Hyperojects exhibition name, a bit off putting, of Slime Dynamics II. Jasmin Märker is straight to the point. The installation takes the form of preformed tiles and accompanying wall pieces that create a luxurious environment. Much as our own earth is a luxury environment which in no small element remains a luxury.

The installation is in my eyes that ‘platform’ Jasmin creates for the amalgam or organic actions to continue once introduced to each other. It is as a W ord sits alongside another and describes another form. The object be it of our desire or destruction. In conversation with the artist I obtained recommended reading. In pursuit of silence. Film. Timothy Morton Humankind. It is a book on human nature. This recommendation is parallel and touches on the way the forms we see represent in a way the manner creation happens. The impulsive narcotic behaviours compelling us to think and mutate in art form and in our lives. The geography is changed. Here is a small contemplation in an arts space. Returning to the space after a week or two the evolving matter is alive and well. It proclaims the miracle of existence not only of ourselves but the matter that strings us together and connects us with this unexplained existence. The nature is absorbing and trough their piece which I find to be – after the signs floated in the audio of Jez Riley French totally successful in its object. Hyperobject in many layers of meaning and was seen and continues to put forward notions of what that metamorphosis is dong in the present time.

The actual location is being microbiology at work and even the doors are providing defences and barriers to the installation within.

There is insufficient time or space in this critique to cover the other installations but it is safe to say they all collectively made a deep impression and expanded the means of learning objectively.

Sent from my iPad

All views are my own in this essay.

John Graham

3 December 2019

Belfast

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