Spain in October was warm and welcoming. Valencia is a beautiful and historical city that has plenty to offer while not being wholly given over to tourism. It’s got a fantastic display of street art that manages to be stylish, skilled and political.
Nazir Tanbouli and I went to Valencia to do the second part of our exchange with Valencia artists. In May Daniel Granero, Claudia Martinez, Ima Picó, Cristina Ghetti and Paula Bonet came to London to mount KEEPING AFLOAT, a group show about how artist keep going during tough economic times. Nazir and I turned up in Valencia with our version of KEEPING AFLOAT for La Clinica Mundana gallery. Nazir installed a work consisting of 26 ink drawings on long reams of paper, covering the walls of the gallery until it looked almost like a monochrome temple frieze, but with very disturbing images, I screened a selection of short films including a new one THE MOON, THE SEA AND THE CITY which I made especially for the show, using still and moving images I’d taken in Valencia during previous visits.
On the Saturday Nazir, with Daniel Granero assisting, painted a mural on the wall next to the gallery. It is on Carrer de Palomino a street that has a lot fo really interesting graffiti and murals, despite being just a tiny little street. But then, before Naz started to paint, we discovered something really interesting. There is a door in the wall and that door leads to the gallery back alley as we’d assumed but to a bomb shelter! A bomb shelter from the Civil War, when Valencia was the capital of the Republican government, and was beseiged by the (fascist) nationalists. Having a natural sympathy to anti-fascists, we felt honoured to paint this wall, and the mural, which Naz had thought about while being constantly aware of the current crisis in the world economy, took some kind of angry strength from that. Because unbelievably, it RAINED ON THAT DAY, RAINED A LOT, RAINED HARD. It was tough! Naz and Daniel painted in the rain, stopped when flash floods came and as soon as the huge raindrops ceased, ran out again and continued painting. The self image of painting under the smiling yellow Spanish sun, just did not come to fruition. A few people clutching umbrellas passed us, and looked as us like we were mad – the men painting and me filming, in the rain! By the time the gallery opened in the early evening, after the siesta, they could not believe it. Nobody had expected them to paint that day.
STUDIO 75 AND HATING THE GREAT WEN SOMETIMES
Aware that here we are setting up the new show at Studio 75 while just next week, the big behemoth of Frieze will get underway. What a contrast! Here we are with no money and no power and no fabulously rich clients … and not any great hope of getting any of that. London is really a b*tch. Where else can you get it shoved in your face like that? New York probably, maybe Moscow these days. Ugh. How often I feel like leaving this monstrous megalopolis, the place William Cobbett famously called the Great Wen (boil). De Quincey noted that “the outside air and framework of London society is harsh, cruel and repulsive.” I’m aware that I’m writing this as very sour grapes indeed, given that I am lucky enough to have a great studio, and fantastic studio partners and wonderful artists to work with. And so.
The new show, Rivers is a photography show that’s happening as part of Photomonth. It’s the first show in the studio to feature substantially my work – I am showing with Catia Ott another film-maker/photographer. I realised I’ve spent nine months in the studio and shown barely any of my own work… We’re focusing on showing more of our own work for the coming season: no more group shows or solo shows: only studio artists or duo shows where we invite others. Having said that, we are always open minded.
We haven’t blogged since mid July because the studio has been closed for part of the summer in order to actually do some travel and also to hole up there and just work. But we have got things up and running again ow with some exciting new things. Firstly Andrea is continuing the monthly Flat Screens series of screenings, with “SECRET” – i.e. as-yet-unreleased – films and really exciting discussions.
October sees Photomonth, the East London Festival of Photography where our exhibition River(s) will launch two books (Tevere by Catia Ott and Tarkovsky’s River by Gillian McIver), alongside photography and film screenings. After that, Nazir Tanbouli and Valentin Manz will show books and book-related things.
In mid-November Nazir will have a mammoth solo show till Christmas rotating different artworks, open studio sessions and screenings of his animations and a little shop where you can buy or commission some of his work as multiples as well as buy originals.
It’s really exciting and exhausting.
People are saying these days that London is finished, clapped out. I’m not sure yet that’s true. The signs are there: violence and greed and prices rising, opportunities contracting. But we have the studio, we’re making things happen, we’ll ride the weave as long as we can and then – we’ll see.
Running Studio 75 is not just about offering ourselves and our friends good exhibition opportunities in London. Of course it is that; it’s a great space that lends itself to quite a wide variety of shows and also perfect for intimate screenings followed by fascinating discussions. It’s all that. But if it was just that, it would not be enough. There are other places like that all around us. It’s also go to be a lab, a space to try stuff. Make, remake, rip it up and go again.
We’re having a summer break from exhibiting, and work continues apace in the studio. In the autumn we have some photography based events for Photomonth, a solo shows by printmaker Jonathan Comerford and then we’re going to go a bit “radical.” What’s that going to be? We don’t want to specify yet, cos we are working out the details.
What we are about, after all, is “reinvigorating the idea of the artist run space” or artist run project. We’re trying to work out how artists can be autonomous, and benefit from the flux in the world around us.
GLENN IBBITSON “CONSIGNMENT”
STUDIO 75 is very proud to be presenting a solo show by the painter Glenn Ibbitson.We persuaded him to leave the dramatic mountains and stormy seas of Wales to come to the filthy big Smoke to show us his exciting project Consignment.
‘CONSIGNMENT @ STUDIO75’ is a selection from an ongoing project of painting, print and film on the theme of human trafficking and extraordinary rendition. Boxed, labelled, despatched. Units in batches; humanity as mere commodity.
In this work Ibbitson does not attempt to “document” or “explain” or even to depict what human trafficking might look like. Instead he has sought to explore, through figurative art and film, what the human lived experience of being objectified and commodified might feel like on a basic physical level. Figures in boxes, hemmed in, restricted and powerless, made haunting and compelling by the artist’s mastery of his media.
An exciting aspect of this body of work is Ibbitson’s demonstration of the capability of figurative art in exploring the kind of notions and emotions which words or conscious explanation cannot approach. Painting the unspoken.
We picked Glenn after Nazir exhibited with him at Shoredtich Town Hall and his work stood out a by a mile. His work manages to be both firmly and proudly in keeping with the long tradition of figurative art, yet boldly addressing contemporary issues and mindsets, offering fresh new views on the world around, and inside, us.
Glenn’s work has something in common with Lucian Freud’s, but unlike Freud he’s never bitter or sour; his vision is profoundly humane and even optimistic, in the face of the horrors of the man-created world and the dark psychology of the human mind.
The pieces will be rotated at the start of each day so that the exhibition re-invents itself visually throughout the run. A short film will accompany the paintings.
Studio 75 | June 30 – July 03| DAILY
Opening Thursday June 30 6 pm