Geometric patterns, anthropomorphic characters, architectural spatial environments, and relics of the ancient world appear throughout Jess Johnson's artworks.Johnson's solo art-ventures began in drawing, but her long-term collaborative relationship with animator Simon Ward brings her drawings to life in videos and virtual reality. The animator has...
Under the artistic direction of Folakunle Oshun, the second edition of the Lagos Biennial (26 October–23 November 2019) includes works by over 40 Lagos-based and international artists, architects, and collectives. Curated by architect Tosin Oshinowo, curator and producer Oyindamola Fakeye, and assistant curator of photography at the Art Institute...
Hans Hartung and Art Informel at Mazzoleni London (1 October 2019-18 January 2020) presents key works by the French-German painter while highlighting his connection with artists active in Paris during the 50s and 60s. In this video, writer and historian Alan Montgomery discusses Hartung's practice and its legacy.Born in Leipzig in 1904, Hans...
Overflowing cascades of foliage and branch tracery overlap, their shapes fusing and emerging, one branch thrusting itself in front of another, a leaf in front of another leaf and into the viewer's field of vision where it either asserts its bright green or gets lost in the blackness of an impenetrable depth.
Pointing beyond itself this green wall opens up onto the view of an expansive landscape. An integral whole is depicted or a section of a whole never surrendering to detail but always integrating it. In the very lower foreground Saint George looks down from his horse at his enemy, the dragon, with lowered lance and an almost merciful gaze. This classical subject is pushed to the farthest edge of the frame where it becomes vague and alienated due to the absence of drama of what is usually known as a battle scene; the dragon helpless, almost comical in his role. Instead the inconspicuous has become the painter's preoccupation here, the defocussing becoming a new freedom of action. While the intention—maybe initially the task to depict the sacred myth without further questioning—is lost to the depths of green and the wide space beyond, it is also found and reformulated here. The Given falls out of the frame of its datum.
In 1510 Albrecht Altdorfer paints Forest Scene with Saint George, not the 'Dragonslayer' and not even 'Saint George in the forest' but first and foremost the forest.
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An over and under of layers born by two primary antagonists, foreground and ground seen from differing viewpoints, a decisive gesture. Permeating, emerging, one suggests a lower plane while our eye follows the vertical alignment of the other, tracks the movements of the brush, searches for clues to its genesis. The primary elements coalesce to create something secondary; the effect of colour and form are elevated to the status of subject matter. A forceful brush pushes paint to its outer edges, electric blue accumulates like torrents around the sides of each stroke. Red-hot seats of fire break out here and there amongst the blue—or are they only conjured by the absence of their counterpart? A game with superficiality and depth tricks our perception to move past the ground.
At first the works of this ensemble seem to reject similarities. Individual pieces evade any type of pattern, each one seems unique within the circle of the exhibition. One confronts form, three-dimensional landscapes collide with fields of colour divided by decisive bars of grey. Abstract colour gradients are subordinated to a spatial construction. In another, deep black drowns out a drawing at the surface. But something from behind the dark veil surfaces into our visual field where it turns into the supporting element. The monochrome opacity does not want to conceal its ground, it shimmers when looked at from different angles, but in the end surrenders to figuration. Every painting is distinct at first glance and yet at closer scrutiny analogies emerge. The focus is on the process—reenacting the visible, the line, the layers, the fore- and background—and its respective conclusion.
The eye strains to detect depth lurking under the surface. It mines for stratigraphic clues amongst the deposits of pigment and uncovers morphological patterns. Where escarpments have eroded vertical profiles come to light, a sequence of strata revealing fossils and material remains. Every find is like a sculpture: with each new operation the final form emerges by and by from a block of raw marble. Evidence of earlier sediments also resemble marble. Tightly intertwined and dislocated, they tell a story of tectonic processes: foldings, superpositions, ruptures.
The layers are more than a homogenous plane, they are visualised associations, thoughts, ideas, arguments, images, they overlap and support, correlate or revise each other. The respective surface becomes a cross section, a synthesis of all ideas, an x-ray through all phases. What is visible as a stage can only be understood as part of a whole, as a relation of steps to each other—as a conclusion.
The ground suggests depth and simultaneously appears as a part of the upper most layer. The ground is both subject and motive, supporting surface and background, terrain and place. To have reason to unearth and grasp something ('ground to unground'), to trace an origin—the dimensions of the ground serve as an index for its analytic exploration and are proof of the complexity and durational process that goes into each work. The ground is the field of possibilities, it undergoes a change of roles from accompanying to leading voice in a process of recovering.
Unlike the wood panels with their dense chains of associations the monotypes stand out due to their gestural ease. They are snapshots in the process of associative abstraction, printed copies of particular states that produce clarity despite their reflective spontaneous character. Being on paper lends them a different materiality to the rest of the ensemble.
The Para- (= against, beside) ergon (= work) sprawls around singularities and embeds them within conditional correlations, which operate on our thoughts and actions, infiltrating and veiling them. The veil of correlations never fully obscures but rather highlights and casts objects in different lights. It is the Parergon, the counter-work, which creeps into the work and asserts itself.
Potential resides in rupture, in the unfamiliar, the uneven, in stimuli to our sensory system, a system constantly adjusting to new conditions, bound to them by way of feedback-circuits. The senses grasp the world without comprehending it, impressions are taken to be true like paradigms, patterns of order, grids. On a higher level convention operates as a chained anchorage of thought, mostly out of our control. The cognitive process begins when we question this reality, when our perception is irritated, when things aren't taken to be true, when the Given appears as its distorted mirror image. The power of the Given harbours a further potential—it can take on a life of its own, put a spoke in the wheel of intention. The Given takes revenge on the intent.
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