Last night we had another round of crits, Paul Jex, Melanie Kyles and Nick Christie showed work, here is a little round up;
Paul Jex is currently showing in the Project Space at Vane Gallery. His large scale posters pair well known artists together, evoking ideas of invented exhibitions, bill boards and glossy ad pages such as Art Review or Frieze. As the curator of the posters he has chosen not to reveal why the artists have been paired. His preoccupation with monochrome art plays an important role in a lot of his work and the luscious colours chosen can provide subtle clues to an art enthusiast/detective.
We were talking about how artists are basically filters for information and Paul’s practice is such a great example of this. He has amassed such a wealth of data in his studio, collecting every Howard Hodgkin image he can get his hands on from the guardian, hundreds of obituaries, postcards, train tickets, reviews and magazines.
Preceding the takeover of digital photography, Paul would photograph art works in museums/galleries and has since created a massive spreadsheet holding all the data about the work, the artist, where the photo was taken etc. Investigating the different ways we experience art works, he referred to a well thumbed art book from his teenage years and flicked to a page where he had seen a small image of a painting. He happened upon it in real life a few years later and been totally blown away. Even collecting the same image of a painting from different newspapers, you can see how little effort is sometimes put into colour matching in these publications. They can look completely different, especially when printed upside down (as in one case).
Paul’s work inevitably leads to him questioning, “What exactly am I going to do with my findings and how will I display them?” A vital question for all artists. Is it important to show the mass of Paul’s data all at once, or could fragments represent this adequately and give the viewer more time to digest fewer images? Should pieces be framed, in a vitrine, printed into a pamphlet (yet another step away from the original) collated into a book? Paul’s studio is much like a museum with a permanent collection hidden away and maybe this is a good way of thinking about it.
His works also speaks about the art market, referencing tricks that artists have played at auction houses and with collectors, art history and the western world’s view of art history being so influential on young minds, in particular his.
Paul’s work is 90% research and chance discovery. I’m looking forward to see where it shoots off in the future. One W.I.P. in particular I think is such an amazing idea, but I don’t want to drop a *spoiler* – so watch out for his exhibitions yourself.
Melanie Kyles has a studio at Ampersand Inventions crammed with all manner of art materials, ostrich feathers, pins and needles. She told us how she went on a trip to London to see the Alexander McQueen exhibition at the V&A and ended up spending all her money on Ostrich feathers in a trimming shop.
Melanie quite obviously revels in the chance to collaborate, an example being a recent aquisition by Northern Goldsmiths of a piece made by Mel, Jonpaul Kirvan and Nick Christie. JP created the digital illustration, Nick made the (double printed) metallic screen print and Melanie embellished the piece with genuine Swarovski crystals and pearls. This was to celebrate the refurbishment of Northern Goldsmiths and is now hung at the top of the grand staircase in their store in Newcastle. Future collaborations also sound very intriguing.
Having recently been studying constellations Melanie seems drawn to their vast nature, but also the way humans have recorded them in the past, often illuminating books with elaborate illustrations of creatures and stories from the skies. I can imagine her intricate embellishments bringing the cosmos alive beautifully.
Her interest in romantic writing and fables are apparent throughout, while looking at Paul’s photographs she pointed out a painting of Isabella from a Keats poem who’s brother cruelly kills her unworthy lover. She explained Isabella goes to find his body, digs it up, cuts of his head and plants it in the pot of a basil tree. The tree is then watered by her tears and grows from his brain but his brothers finally take the pot and she dies of grief. What a story. Mean brothers alert!
It can be a challenge to balance the more commercial side of work with the fine art end and this is what Mel is working through at the moment. Paul suggested she could work towards a long term fine art piece with elaborate embellishment and apply to the Royal Academy Summer Show next year – a good idea as she can spread the intricate work out and do a little each week. Melanie also runs a successful ASOS business online, which you can peruse HERE.
Nick Christie showed us a little update of work he had developed since our crit only last week;
Please excuse the photograph, my camera couldn’t really cope with the extreme contrast, the base layer is SO black, almost like velvet. Maybe you can see the top layer better (which is screen printed) on the photo below. The image has been pared down to represent just a screen rather than a whole phone, which I think is a good idea as it makes for a touch more ambiguity and intrigue.
We’re all looking forward to seeing where this experimental series leads.