Saturday, October 14, 2006

Jerusalem @ Dean Clough

Paul Hodgson, 'Clean the Floor', 2005

Jerusalem
Curated by David Hancock
Crossley Gallery
Dean Clough Galleries
Halifax

Exhibition Dates: - 21 January - 2 April 2006
Private View: - Saturday 11th February 2006, 12-2pm
Gordon Cheung
David Hancock
Beth Harland
Paul Hodgson
Reece Jones
Peter Lamb
Rui Matsunaga
Richard Meaghan
Hugh Mendes
Tamsin Morse
Barry Thompson
Rikki Whitlock
Simon Woolham
Hannah Wooll

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Jerusalem: - Statement


Gordon Cheung 'Overlit Realm', Mixed Media on Canvas, 2005

One of the most striking characteristics of Romanticism is the role of nature within the canvas. Previously nature’s role had been of one of a subordinate - neat and trimmed and enclosed within a walled garden. In Romanticism, nature is freed from its shackles of servitude and is depicted in its full dominant glory, presenting a Utopian Idyll of transcendental enlightenment. In his poem ‘Jerusalem’, Blake questions the divinity of man’s progress, as later did Carlyle and Ruskin. They were opposed to the Utilitarian philosophy that guided the Industrial Revolution at the expense of both nature and the workers, and sought instead a model based on ancient honest co-operative endeavour. So as man has sought to harness nature her full power has been seen to diminish. Yet despite this she is still able to exact a terrible revenge and recent natural disasters only bear a testament to the timely resurgence in the ideal of Romanticism that permeates these artists’ works.

‘Jerusalem’ brings together a number of artists who have sought to depict within their work, a new relationship between the individual and the landscape. They have sought to create new worlds imbued with a sense of the poetic, not only representing the sublime but also the uncanny. In a culture noted for its accessibility and ease of mobility, coupled with a gradual disintegration of social ties, there is a desire for intimacy as we seek environments in which we feel a sense of safety. It is the intention of these artists to seek these spaces of intimacy within the idealised haven of their work, and this escapism is marked by an aesthetic which goes beyond the ordinary. They are scarred by their impotency in the face of a media bombardment of terror and so their work contains a sense of yearning that is rooted in the tradition of Romanticism.

Gordon Cheng presents a post-apocalyptic view of a stripped earth with technological data replacing a once ‘Green and Pleasant land’. Cheung’s perception oscillates between the utopian and dystopian. Beth Harland’s work at first glance shares this vision, yet her techno-sublime vistas are in fact still lives of the discarded waste of a commodity-infatuated culture. Peter Lamb’s paintings are also littered with physical objects, but of a bygone age, that act as a glue adhering past and present. His work becomes a haunting testimony to the dangers inherent in adopting a philosophical attitude towards global atrocities that relegates them to mere historical spectacles. Hugh Mendes’ work also focuses on the historical play of world events. Within Mendes’ work Blake’s vision is transformed into the political terrain that is the disputed land of the real Jerusalem. The focus of Rikki Whitlock’s work is more introverted as he delves into Blake’s psychological profile to construct work that deals with contemporary paranoia and sincerity.

Reece Jones simultaneously implies and eludes narrative through his works. He creates monochromatic environs that draw upon the kitsch and possess the seductive surface of their process that is disquieting and bizarre. Rui Matsunaga’s paintings similarly borrow aspects from the kitsch as she transmutes this sampled imagery into a fantastical world of contemporary mythology. The work of Hannah Wooll mixes an underlying narrative of malevolence and melodrama with the conventional frivolities of femininity. Both artists construct vivid wonderlands of luscious paint and fairytale promise. Tamsin Morse’s landscape paintings encompass their construction, existing in a world beyond nature – an ominous quagmire.

By recreating the legacy of a lost Victorian artist, Romanticism prevails within the paintings of David Hancock. Having constructed a framework where his work can reside outside of current cynicism, contemporary parallels can be drawn through the reappraisal of the artist’s work. Richard Meaghan’s focus is also to the Romantic as he seeks to find a spiritual home. Through his paintings he attempts to represent the conflict of issues and the uncertainty he found in Blake’s search for the sublime.Suffused with Art Historical references, Paul Hodgson’s work is derived from Victorian studio portraiture in which ‘types’ were reconstructed and recorded by the camera. Stripped of their original associations, they are easily filled with the ghosts of our more recent histories. Barry Thompson’s work is drawn from the emancipation of childhood from an escape to nature or the adolescent sanctuary of the bedroom; his work is a lamentation for these lost utopias. Similarly Simon Woolham creates urban narratives of miscreant adventures of adolescence from simple materials, thus creating a nostalgic journey of unsettling enchantment.

In representing the landscape the artists have chosen to extract the beauty in both the natural and urban environment. These works are characterised by the transcendental; the dark compulsions of the contemporary psyche form a significant presence in their works. Surrounding themselves in a field of white noise, each artist contrives an overview, escaping into the beauty of the application of their chosen medium

Friday, January 20, 2006

Installation Views of Jerusalem @ Dean Clough





Thursday, January 19, 2006

Installation Views @ Dean Clough





Tuesday, September 13, 2005

David Hancock

'Our English Coasts', Acrylic on Canvas, 237 x 165cm, 2006

Gordon Cheung

'War of Reason', Collage, acrylic gel, spray, gloss & oil on canvas, 2005
Adapted to a matrix of technologies our bodies are electronically merged into a virtual landscape. Cheung is interested in an increasingly technologised era that has reconfigured our perceptions of time, space and position into a state of constant flux. For example the communications and digital revolution have collapsed notions of time and distance into the instantaneous and therefore our perceptions of contemporary landscape.
The stock listings of the Financial Times newsprint is used as a direct metaphor for the electronic data saturated era in which we exist. It is chosen for its density of information, global reach and because in a sense it is a dream-world where investors chase after promises of fortune that affect all our lives. It is a virtual space affecting us in the actual, digitally flowing through us raising and lowering the death rate as it moves. It is clear that few are able to find ‘real’ fortune and for many the ‘promises’ of attaining returns from the stock market are merely mirages.
The ‘paintings’ can be understood as hyper-paint-by-numbers depicting virtual landscapes oscillating between utopia and dystopia. Essentially they reflect a techno-sublime landscape where information overwhelms the individual causing a flickering perception of realities blurring between the virtual and actual.

Rikki Whitlock

'Ghostwormer', Oil on Canvas, 2005

‘Two things occurred to me when I read the Tate’s press material on the William Blake exhibition. The First was surprise at the idea that the exhibition is somehow supposed to confirm this mad old paranoid wild man’s continuing relevance for “the modern art of today”. This led to my second thought, which is that because I usually write about today’s art, I hardly ever think about him. His sincerity and propensity to experience visions always seemed to separate him for me from anything today’s art is supposed to be about.’
‘Blake and Today’s Art-Not related’ Matthew collings. Modern Painters Winter 2000.

Two things occurred to me when I read this opening paragraph. The first was wonder at the idea of who Blake would be if alive today-would we recognise him? Would he be busy writng and making art at all? This led to my second thought, which is that it seems a lot easier meeting people of all ages with a propensity for paranoia, visions and sincerity for whom Blake is or could be relevant than meeting artists who are written about. So how is it he seems separate from anything today’s art is supposed to be about?


Beth Harland

'Zone 3', Oil on Canvas, 2004

My recent works reflect upon the impact of contemporary visual technologies on our experience and perceptions of the world, and on the space of painting as a practice.
The series of paintings entitled Zone sources digital images of everyday discarded objects, arranged on a tabletop, repeatedly manipulated to suggest altered landscapes. The elusive texture of memory is explored as still life and landscape genres merge and different depths and states of mind are evoked simultaneously. The painted border mediates the image; it is not quite part of, nor outside of the work.
In the digital realm, oppositions of figure/ground disperse, enabling multiple positions, fluid structure and slippage. In the paintings, boundaries are blurred and flawed, images partially absorbed, experienced perhaps with senses other than the visual. The work references Gilles Deleuze’s writing on haptic visuality – a close range vision that bridges our perception of the retinal and the tactile. He describes a layered surface density inviting vision that both spreads out and is drawn in – a fluctuating figure/ground. This flickering, double picture space, potentially brings together past, present and future onto the screen of the painting as it moves between surface and depth, thinking and inscribing.


Paul Hodgson

'Stoke the Fire', Pigment Print on Paper, 2005

Hodgson’s works make reference to art historical sources; both as a response to specific works from the Renaissance, Neo Classical and Modernist periods, and as a more generalised analytical view of visual language. Recent work makes a connection between the artist’s own studio space, and the photographic studios of the late 1800’s, in which ‘types’ of people and environments were reconstructed and recorded by the camera. These depictions helped to create pervading societal stereotypes. Conversely, Hodgson’s images hold surface appearances under suspicion. Depictions of physical tasks and simple human relations - stripped of poetic or Arcadian innocence - become hollow and without purpose. Having lost their original associations, they are easily filled with the ghosts of our more recent histories.

Reece Jones

'Hanging with the Wrong Crowd', Charcoal on Paper, 2005

Manipulating charcoal with an intensive repeated process of application and removal, Jones creates an unforgiving mechanical surface. A vinyl veil behind which depth and tone allude to humming vistas. Sampling stills from various b movies, jpegs, ephemera and found images as well as containing borrowed visual devices and fabricated elements these pieces simultaneously imply and elude narrative. What remain are peculiar hybrid environs, at once seductive, disquieting and bizarre.

Peter Lamb

'Mon Dieu', Mixed Media on Canvas

Our understanding of history changes over time. Shifts in power, political upheavals, conflict, and philosophical ideas bring about greater understanding and awareness. This distance unfortunately has an inverse relationship to the collective sources we draw upon to validate these historical events. The adding to or painting over in Lamb’s works can be seen as an attempt to fill in the gaps left in the wake of this paradox, in much the same way historians, writers, documentists and recorders have done in the past. This creates an entanglement of information and disinformation that in its turn has led to a constant revaluation of history and the grand narratives said to underlie that history. Lambs paintings ask questions of history of the people that write it and the artists role with in it. Many of the paintings lamb chooses to rework are from a particular period when the artist relied almost solely on the patronage of the wealthy aristocracy. Lamb also sets ups a duality with present day practice; does the artist now (given that he has been freed from the tyranny of modernism) have any obligation to an idealist standpoint. Lambs paintings are littered with remnants from the past, stuffed animal heads are mounted on the surface, a ritualistic display, considered necessary to up hold a rigid class system that has its roots deeply planted in English history. The random and chaotic nature of these works, suggest an over turning of the established order not only socially and politically, but also creatively, they are tangible physical reminders of a past, a past that can be revaluated, misinterpreted, altered, distorted and even denied. Headless figures, ghosts and spectres permeate these paintings, and reminiscent of the apparition in Hamlet they reiterate, “remember me, remember me, remember me”. Remember History, a haunting testimony to the dangers inherent in adopting a philosophical attitude that disengages events from its broader context or gives precedence to a Hegelian theodicy which relegate events such as the massacres perpetrated by the allies’ war planes during the gulf war or the ethnic cleansing in Bosnia and Croatia as an in evitable scene played out in a historical play that we have to sit and watch but are powerless to do anything about.


Rui Matsunaga

'Jaguar Prince', Oil on Canvas 2005

Rui Matsunaga’s paintings take aspects from figurative images found in everyday magazine, newspaper or photo imagery and transmutes them into the fantastical world of contemporary mythology. Matsunaga morphs the people into Shamans, Witches, Oracles and Medicine Men to reveal a Pop dimension fused with magic and the spiritual.

Richard Meaghan

'Walk the Plank', Acrylic & Glitter on Canvas, 2005

William Blake’s poem ‘Jerusalem’ is for Richard Meaghan, the search for a spiritual home, the environment he feels most comfortable in and the relationships he wishes to surround himself with. To Meaghan the Landscape is important and he has a romantic ideal about it, walking in the hills and being close to water creates a feeling of harmony yet there is a need to remain in a city with all its cultural diversity and opportunities. These contrasting emotions have for some time created great conflict within so his search goes on. Whereas whom he chooses to build that future with is more certain, if that can ever be the case. The paintings exhibited are an amalgamation of a number of differing experiences that symbolise the building of that future for his family and himself.

Meaghan’s paintings try to represent a conflict of issues and the uncertainty that he found in “Jerusalem” and the never-ending search for the sublime.


Tamsin Morse

'Catacoombs', Mixed media on Canvas, 2005
Morse's landscape paintings have a deep relationship to the specific way in which they are made. Encompassing the action of drawing they come to exist in another world beyond nature. Their purpose is to suggest the real, content wise and compositionally, but with use of colour and line, create, on second glance, a fairly ominous and slightly sinister world. Morse sees much of her painting and drawing as a kind of writing; no more so than in the repetitive 'squiggles' within the work which she sees as a composition of an abstracted written narrative that formulates into a figurative element. For example, shaping areas of ground or bark with quick marks of the paintbrush, that are describing a form rather than painting it flat or tonally.The worlds she paints are initially inviting through their familiar genre and accessible colour. On closer inspection they become quagmires and inaccessible hostile environments that are uncomfortable and unwelcoming.

Hugh Mendes


Mendes has been painting images of newspaper clippings for about four years now. They originated in the context of still life, accompanying objects that related to the stories and headlines. They came to prominence following 9/11, the day of his MA graduation, when he showed a painting of Bin Laden pointing a gun at a triumphant George Bush. The use of newspaper clippings provides a very flat spatial field, recalls certain trompe l’oile 17th century still life and deals directly with contemporary issues such as cloning and terrorism. These are contemporary manifestations of the timeless themes of birth and death. Recently he has been working on an ongoing, and never ending, series of obituaries. The act of meticulous painting and therefore sustained concentration brings a degree of focus and depth to what otherwise would be fleeting moments in the press

Barry Thompson


There is an attempt to embrace the ‘Romantic’ in the work of Barry Thompson both historically and personally. Whilst occasionally referencing Romantic painting from the past, ideals and fantasies are being retraced from his own past, particularly from childhood and adolescence where such ideals were created.
The paintings and drawings act as visual triggers for these ideals and fantasies. They are expressions of an age, representing places that at once recall moments of innocence and joy as well as the emancipation one felt as a child, for example, escaping the urban environment for a more natural one away from adult domination, or as an adolescent listening to music in the bedroom. They were seeds for the planting of ‘little utopias’ here and there.
These places are held dear, but there is a fundamental flaw present. ‘Ideals’ by there very nature fail. There is therefore a lamentation as well as a celebration. They are also a meditation on time. Because of this, it is not so difficult to find a linkage with Romantic art of both past and present.

Simon Woolham

'The Resting Place', Biro on Paper, 2005

Woolham's work is concerned primarily with occupied spaces and the narratives that unfold in them. His drawings of school playing fields, junked underpasses and the like often contain text with the tone of dialogue. Through these glimpses of speech the dilapidated environments come to life in a skint version of enchantment: a tree stump or a broken fence are filled with the meanings of the events that go on around and about them. In his attempts to unearth this unpredictable and fragile process of memory, he uses biro drawings, video, interactive CD-ROM's, and text. More recently he has built a series of mock architectural models of such environmental features as ditches, unofficial dumps and breached security fences. They are unassuming pieces made from simple materials and with seemingly modest aspirations. It is their quotidian qualities, however, that charges them with emotion, not that those emotions are easy to identify. It is not that these works are personal or autobiographical that obscures their emotional content, it is the fact that they are irreducibly, irrevocably unsettling. These sites are the scenes of humiliation as well as innocent play, of rejection and failure as well as fantasy and adventure. They are as sweet as other people’s children and as deadly as your own worst memories.

Hannah Wooll

'Bicycle Race', Oil on Canvas, 2005

On the surface Hannah Wooll’s work may appear to embody a very clichéd or stereotypical view of femininity, but it is not necessarily an affirmation of this construct, but a playful indulgence of, in, and around it. She is drawn to frivolous images, decorative triviality, overly adorned and iced cakes, ballerinas with pink shoes and fluffy tutus, little girls with antiquated outfits and bows in their hair; imagery that is so sugary, it could make you sick.

She suggests that her paintings could have an underlying narrative of malevolence and melodrama mixed in with pretty pastel colours, and simplistic scenes.

It is important to me to have areas of the paintings that are more suggestive, or less defined as a particular image or thing. This is so that the paintings do not become stale and uniform to me, or exist in a definite space. Lapses in and out of reality, paint which is almost chocolate box modulation and then redeemed by a neighbouring element of confusion, allowing for the serendipity of the medium’s flow. Pattern turning into people, reflections and shadows becoming more absolute than the body that casts them. She wishes the paint and narrative to intrinsically relate and shift with the variations of each work.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Artist's Biographies

David Hancock, 'Among these Dark Satanic Mills', acrylic on canvas, 2004
Gordon Cheung
Born and lives in London. Complete MA Fine Art at the Royal College in 2001. Exhbitions include the touring show ‘Yes, I am a long way from Home’ and ‘Apopalyptical’ at Houldsworths. Completed residencies at Chinese Arts Centre in Manchester, Pakistan, Kyoto Arts Centre in Japan and Paris. Currently showing in the British Art Show 6.

David Hancock
Born and lives in Manchester. Completed BA Fine Art at Manchester in 1996. Solo exhibitions include Leicester City Art Gallery, The Storey Gallery, Lancaster, Dean Clough, Halifax, Comme Ca, New York and DDM Warehouse, Shanghai. Group exhibitions include John Moores 21 and BP Portrait Prize 2001 and Young Masters. Also curated the touring exhibition ‘We didn’t mean to be Bad kids, TV made us do it.’

Beth Harland
Studied at the RCA, London and Ruskin School of Art, Oxford. Awarded a scholarship to the British School at Rome, exhibiting there and in Naples. Exhibitions at, ArtSway, Winchester Gallery, The Nunnery, London, John Moores 21, Norwich Gallery, Standpoint Gallery, London, Kolo Gallery, Gdansk, Poland, Studio Gallery & U.F.F. Gallery, Budapest, Whitechapel Open, Gasworks Gallery, London and Arnolfini, Bristol.

Paul Hodgson
Lives I n London. Completed MA Printmaking at Royal College in 2000. Solo shows at Feigen Contemporary NY, Museum of Foreign Art, Riga, Latvia, M K Ciurlionis National Museum of Art, Lithuania and at Houldsworth, London, Group shows in Young Masters and Schweppes Photographic Portrait Prize 2003.

Reece Jones
Born in Botswana and lives in London. Completed a Master at the Royal Academy in 2001.Recently had a solo exhibition at Rockwell, London. Group exhibitions at Keller and Greene in Los Angeles and Capsule and Wooster Projects in New York. Reece is one of the founding artists of the Rockwell Project Space, London. Forthcoming show at Andrew Mummery, London.

Peter Lamb
Born and lives in London. Completed Ba Fine at Camberwell in 1996. Exhibited and curated across the Europe and America including Raid Projects and Latch Gallery in LA and with Deutsche Bank and The Nunnery, London. Solo exhibitons at Kingsgate Gallery, London, Gallery Anddrynil, Iceland and Edward Giardina Gallery, Santa Ana.

Rui Matsunaga
Born in Japan lives in London. Completed Masters at Royal Academy in 2002. Represented Uk in the Lexmark European Art Prize 2003. Rui was included in RAdical at the Jerwood Space and Wooster Projects, NY.

Richard Meaghan
Born and lives in Liverpool. Studied BA Fine Art at Wirral Metropolitan College. Solo exhibitions at the Harris, Preston, Atkinson, Southport, Kirkby Gallery and View 2, Liverpool, and Pilgrim Gallery, London. First Prize in the Sefton Open 2000.

Hugh Mendes
Lives in London. Completed MA at City & Guilds. Solo shows at Sartorial, Three Colts Gallery and the Foundry. Group shows at Raid Projects, LA and Rockwell. Curated ‘Heaven and Earth at the Hackney Empire and ‘Art News’ at Raid Projects. Won Fresh Artist 2003.

Tamsin Morse
Lives in London. Completed Ma Fine Art at Chelsea in 2004. Solo show at Greyscale, London. Group shows include 14x14 Mafuji Gallery,’Bad Touch’ at Keith Talent and at 39 Gallery in London and Zoo Art Fair. Curated ‘Above and Beyond’ as a London-Berlin cultural exchange.

Barry Thompson
Lives in London. Complete MA at Royal College 2005. Group shows at Rachmaninoff’s and Museum 52.

Rikki Whitlock
Completed MA Fine Art at the Royal College in 2000. Exhibitions include David Risley, Keith Talent and Zwemmer in London, and the Bergamo and Modena Museums in Italy. Rikki was included in Voltashow at Basel, Art Forum, Berlin and Zoo Art Fair.

Simon Woolham
Born in Manchester lives in London. Completed MA Fine Art at Chelsea in 2000. Solo exhibitions at the Lowry, Manchester and Hoxton Distillery. Won first prize in Mostyn Open 11 in 2000. Currently Artist in Residence at the Baltic, Gateshead.

Hannah Wooll
Born in Norfolk lives in London. Completed Masters at the Royal Academy in 2003. Previously completed BA Fine Art At Manchester. Exhibited in ‘We didn’t mean to be bad kids, TV made us do it’ and Red Mansion Spero Prize at Millbank. Hannah was included in RAdical at the Jerwood Space and Wooster Projects, NY.