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Reviewed by: Catherine Wilson »
Limoncello is 'The Little Shop on Hoxton Street', an intimate 'white cube' within a tiny shop frontage, located a short walk up Hoxton Street from the hub of noodle bars and cafes at Hoxton Square.
The exhibition was, considering the space, an ambitious group show of twenty-nine works across film, mixed media, sculpture, painting, prints and photography, by thirty-one artists. The intention of co-curators, Rebecca May Marston and Katarzyna Szydlowska, was to present a tribute to the artists who have had solo exhibitions at 92 Hoxton Street since it first opened as a gallery in 2003. Its initial manifestation as the gallery, STORE, was followed by Associates, a not-for-profit space co-directed by Rebecca May Marston and Ryan Gander for a year, before Limoncello was established by May Marston in 2007. Those exhibiting included Caroline Aoun, BANK, Marc Bauer, Vanessa Billy, Ben Cain, Stella Capes, Alice Channer, Kim Coleman and Jenny Hogarth, Lucy Clout, Sean Edwards, Chris Evans, Tom Gidley, Aur'lien Froment and Josephine Flynn, as well as Ryan Gander, Hanson and Sonnenberg, Claire Harvey, Matthew Harrison, Dan Holdsworth, Gemma Holt, The Hut Project, Adri' Juli', Andrew Rucklidge, Giorgio Sadotti, Matthew Smith, Jack Strange, Adam Thomas, Yonatan Vinitsky and Bedwyr Williams.
My visit and response to the work occurred five days after returning from the occupied West Bank. This exhibition was a long way from the stress of travelling through occupied territory and time spent with artists and works that were charged with urgent political and social realities. Now I was floundering for meaning in the face of the cool, detached, neo-conceptualism of some members of the emerging British art scene. However, the works on view were as distant from Duchamp as they were to politically engaged art. Ideas were there, but these were unmistakably art objects, many with a considered sense of the aesthetic. In contrast to the strict, single-minded intellectual focus of 1960s Conceptual Art, the works at Limoncello also delighted in a sense of 'play' with materials, visual interest and the sensorial.
For example, Ben Cain's Free-Standing Dance Partner #01 (2009), was an inverted V-shaped triangular structure created from two timber planks. The external surfaces were covered in paper printed with black and white stripes on one face, and a considered arrangement of black and white images on the opposite face; seemingly disparate images of hand gestures and a landscape. Adjacent on the wall were two prints, linked with similar imagery to the freestanding sculpture, and equally influenced by graphic design. It was an interesting meeting of design, process and the imagination, with an implied connection to performance. Although the curators had imaginatively negotiated the display of so many artworks within a limited exhibition space, Cain's mini-installation was slightly awkward to view as a result of its very close proximity to surrounding works on floor and walls.
For a change in scale, I was drawn to It was an ordinary Saturday morning (2009) by Claire Harvey, which featured a small wooden shelf screwed to the gallery wall, on which there was just enough room for a small pile of sand and an egg placed on top. Delicately inserted in the sand, and looking up towards the egg, was the minuscule painted image of a man on a tiny glass slide. There was a tender beauty in this piece, suggesting human subjectivity and personal narrative in the small moments of life. Although there was a considered combination of materials and objects, Harvey's work also alluded to the picture space of two-dimensional art forms, such as painting.
Prints, drawings and photographs were also on show, including a framed C-type print, Untitled: California (2004), by London-based Dan Holdsworth. In this melancholic, nocturnal image, the façade of a nondescript building could just be discerned. It was an ambiguous structure that left me thinking of deserted spaces, where overlapping traces of presence and absence leave you eternally suspended between multiple realities. The only penetration of light in the print was a surreal view of the night lights of a city projected through, or reflected in, the windows of the building. Here, conceptual sophistication was tempered by an eerie sense of the unknown.
Investigating sounds from the rear of the gallery brought me to the mesmerizing film projection, Sunpaper (2008), by collaborative duo Kim Coleman and Jenny Hogarth, who work in London and Edinburgh. The film, projected onto the wall at floor level, focused on a piece of paper displaying the image of a leaf, floating on water, its surface shimmering and shifting with the play of light. Disembodied fingers manipulated the paper between water and rock where it proceeded to dry in the sun, to the soundtrack of voices and background urban noises. Coleman and Hogarth are known for their collaborations that emphasise participation and performance, and there was a significant preoccupation with process and happening. Planned or impromptu, there was a poetic quality beyond the banality of actions, which arrested the viewer? attention for longer than the first loop.
This exhibition, an informal, but inspired collection of diverse works, more a gathering of friends, was a chance to reflect on the legacy of the gallery at 92 Hoxton Street, as its close in late May will herald Limoncello's move around the corner to new premises at 15a Cremer Street.
Limoncello will exhibit in Frame at the Frieze Art Fair, 15-18 October 2009.
Catherine Wilson, BFA(Hons), Dip World Art, is a freelance writer and editor currently based in Sydney and working freelance in South East Asia. She has written news, features, opinion and travel articles for The Brunei Times in Brunei, The Jakarta Post in Indonesia, Asia Sentinel in Hong Kong, Solomon Star in the Solomon Islands, London Progressive Journal in London and Crikey, source of independent journalism and news in Australia. Catherine has also written extensively about contemporary visual art, world art, culture and society for a-n Magazine and The Oxford Times newspaper in the United Kingdom, Artlink, Art & Australia and Art Asia Pacific in the Asia Pacific region and contributed essays to museum and gallery publications. In 2010, she held the position of Features Editor at The Brunei Times newspaper, based in Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei Darussalam.
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