Sunday, 26 October 2014

Adam and Eve it...

October has proved to be another hectic month, art-wise. And I'm not just talking about all the art fairs, satellite shows, and art parties that made up Frieze Week – probably the busiest week in the London art calender. No, aside from all of the arty frivolities that one feels obliged to join in with (oh... what a hard life), I've been offered a solo show at The Vaults Gallery under Waterloo Station (opening night - Wednesday 5th November, 6-9pm), which I'm busily preparing for, and I've just got back from a six day trip to Moscow where I've been installing the Jameel Prize exhibition at the New Manege.

Like many artists, I also work part-time for one of the big art institutions. In my case it's as an art handler/technician for the Victoria and Albert Museum here in London. One of the perks of working for the VandA is that I not only get to handle some of the world's greatest artworks and treasures, but I'm also able to work on the installs and de-installs of the museum's international touring exhibitions.

Luckily, on my last day in Moscow, I managed to find a few hours to go exploring the city's art galleries and amazing architecture. Here's a photo of me crossing the Moskva River with the stunning Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in the background.

Now that I'm back in London I'm busily assembling everything ready for my own show, Dreams of Being Batman (taken from the title of one of my early sculptures). This includes finishing off new work, getting it framed, packing everything ready for transport, and collecting pieces that have been on loan to various galleries and companies. Yesterday I popped down to Brighton to collect my Planetoid 210 sculpture from Henri Gomez of Dynamite Gallery (look out for the gallery's re-launch at a new venue in January). 'Planetoid 210' is the poster-boy my new show, so it seemed pretty important that I definitely got him back in time. The exhibition will be a selection of new and old work; sculptures, paintings, prints, and drawings.

One of the pieces that I've just finished in time for inclusion in the show is a painting called 'The Koople'. It's based upon a couple, Margarita and Osage, who appeared in a video interview by the nudist activist, Gypsy Taub. I don't know if it was because of the vulnerability of the couple's nudity but I was quite taken with their sincerity and openness, as if the act of removing clothes had also stripped away any conversational pretence.

In my painting of the couple I've modified their arms and turned them into tentacles – an element that crops up in much of my work. Maybe it was a mixture of the nudity and the garden setting but when I watched the video I thought of Adam and Eve. So when I came to doing my contemporary take on humanity's 'mum and dad', instead of adding a serpent to the picture I allowed their altered arms to take on the role of the metaphor for original sin.

As you can see in the photos, I'm still working with found materials; the same sort of found materials that I often use in my sculptures. In this case I've painted on one of the doors that I rescued from the skip outside my last studio.

As is often the way when making art, you'll get part way through the process and hit a point where you have to make a decision to either stop, carry on on the path that you originally intended, or take the work in a different direction. This image of the unfinished painting shows the point (before I added the black line-work) at which I was tempted to stop, purely because I liked the simplicity of the image – where there's just enough elements for the viewer to work out what it is. But then I reasoned that I can simply paint another version later, without the black line-work. Maybe it could even work as a screen print.

Invite to Dreams of Being Batman exhibition.

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