I don’t often ‘cross the streams’ in this blog…some time back I decided it would only focus on painting rather than veer into other topics. But although this isn’t especially about my painting it is about painting more generally. Occasionally I dip my toes into the wider art world and – curation. Actually I’m not entirely convinced that’s what I’m up to. Curation for me is a far more nuanced and complex activity. What I do, and what mostly happens in the art world generally nowadays, is selection. We (and that includes virtually everyone out there) select a group of artists (that admittedly we have given some thought to their suitability to be shown together) and put on an exhibition. And so it was here.
This group included artists from as far afield as London & the North East, Leicester, Lincoln & Nottingham. The show I titled ‘A Riotous Assembly’ and it took place in Derby at the excellent Dance based Arts Centre Deda. The brief intro says:
Letting go, running riot, it has to be admitted, is very liberating – and often a lot of fun. Then of course comes a reckoning, a sense of order being re-established if not completely restored. A lot of abstract painting practice runs on such principles. When you confront the blank sheet of paper or canvas it can be the best way of getting going…don’t agonise but dive in. Put a bit of stick (brush, roller etc.) about and just see how it goes for a bit. Luxuriate in the gloopy, resinous or wishy washy qualities of the paint, gorge yourself on the intensity of the hues, and delight in the chance elements of the collision of colour, form and facture that result. Yes, it may be a tad messy but trusting your instincts is an exhilarating ride and what comes through often surprises you with a fresh take on what you thought you might want to achieve. A new direction or approach to image making and, if you’re lucky something new in your work.
In this riotous assembly though (and whisper it in terms of whats just been said) there may be far more considered initial moves than might be supposed from a first casual look. For some of those present here neither want, nor one supposes could, let go with such abandon. Their first marks are deliberated, even agonised over. And those manoeuvres that follow are equally premeditated. Its simply part of their artifice that to the viewer comes an initial sensation of liberation, an easy, relaxed and reckless pleasure in the pure act of painting. And colour too can seem in some pictures to be be jostling and jockeying for position in random fashion when in truth there is a deal of experience at play, much of it hard-won over years of trial and error, with carefully controlled and thoughtful weighing up of what will ‘work’ with what to achieve a satisfactory and often thrilling outcome.
Here then is a show of seven artists who run the gamut of what’s possible for painting now. They span several generations and cover a fair bit of the country from the North East to London by way of parts of the East Midlands. They share no common agenda and have only been connected here through an invitation from myself. But there are connections and reflections aplenty if you look hard enough. Enjoy!
The show is now sadly over but as always its been hard work but really enjoyable. My thanks go to all the artists for their participation and to Deda, and especially their departing Director (off to a new challenge) and Technical Manager Geoff Harcula as well as the rest of the staff team for their assistance.