Claire Barber, Molly Blunt, Louise Bourgeois, Victoria Burge, Alan Franklin, Amy Gear, Alexander Massouras, Emma McNally, Robert Moon, David Nash, James O’Connell, Bridget Riley, Jill Sylvia, Jayne Wilton
“Rhythm and repetition are at the root of movement. They create a situation within which the most basic forms start to become visually active. By massing them and repeating them, they become more fully present. Repetition acts as a sort of amplifier for visual events which seen singly would hardly be visible. But to make these basic forms release the full visual energy within them, they have to breathe, as it were – to open and close, or to tighten up and then relax. A rhythm that’s alive has to do with changing pace and feeling how the visual speed can expand and contract – sometimes go slower and sometimes go faster. The whole thing must live.” Bridget Riley
Repetition/Variation presents fourteen contemporary artists whose work addresses ideas of repetition and variation, in both their creative process and the content of their work. In selecting the works, curators Julian Page and Joanna Bryant seek to offer a stimulating, eclectic and thoughtful approach to the show’s formal premise. Extending the theme to the thoughts raised by the outcome of the exhibition, the curators have decided to repeat, as well as vary some works over a two week period, offering the viewer a chance to return and consider the nature of the varying dialogues.
Julian Page and Joanna Bryant are independent art curators and dealers, supporting emerging and established contemporary artists. From June 2015, they aim to work together to hold exhibitions that reveal surprising dialogues through the process of collaboration.
Repetition/Variation takes place in two parts: 15-20 & 22-27 September 2015, at Frameless Gallery, 20 Clerkenwell Green, London, EC1R 0DP. Private Views, 15 & 22 September (6-9pm), Exhibitions, 16-19 & 23-26 September (11am-6pm), Finissage Brunches, 20 & 27 September (10am – 1pm)
The artists and works:
Claire Barber considers the poetic relationship between traditional craft-based skill and fine art, often using the idea that many small actions repeated over and over again can make a difference to our lives. In You are the Journey, the repeated action of needle weaving small tapestries over used transport tickets, from seams and inside pockets of travellers, may have the ability to ‘lift’ the incredibly fragile and throwaway redundant artefacts to a new material purpose and meaning. Presented together, the tickets reveal a visceral quilt-like form, retelling many fragmented and reconstructed memories. In Cycle Lace, strips of silk, ripped from a sleeping bag liner were wrapped around the tyres of Claire’s bicycle on a journey across Iceland to record the rhythmic and repeated pounding of the tyres against the terrain. Since graduating with an MA Fine Art from the Royal College of Art in 1994, Claire has exhibited widely, pursuing over twenty commissions and residencies and often working with community-led projects, in the UK and across Eastern Europe, Australia and Japan.
Molly Blunt’s practice stems from an interest in pre-existing objects that have social and symbolic meaning and are often related to the domestic space. From analysing how objects are gendered and perceived as culturally appropriate for men or women, Blunt also examines decorative traditions and patterns that can be revived and reconsidered when taken from their original context and function. The sculptural side of her practice reflects attention to detail and she often uses the device of repetition. Attention is paid to the process and materials used and objects often undergo a simple, yet elegant form of transformation. “I want to see what happens when an object is taken out of its place and given careful consideration”.
Louise Bourgeois (1911-2010) was an American artist of French birth who studied Mathematics at the Sorbonne before switching to artistic studies, marrying and moving to New York in 1938, where she lived for the rest of her life. In 1982, aged 71, she had her first major retrospective at The Museum of Modern Art in New York – the first ever retrospective given to a woman by that museum. Her work can be found in the greatest art museums around the world. “My work deals with problems that I am trying to solve. There is obsession, compulsion and repetition in the work because I continually suffer.”
Victoria Burge uses maps as an interior infrastructure, transforming the patterns found within these geographies (locations of cities, railroad lines, empty highways, hypothetical coordinates) to generate new celestial terrains. Her drawings and prints often capture fleeting moments of nature: light falling on water, weightless particles of snow hanging in the thickness of cold air, or a collection of stars connected by a network of imaginary constellations. “I am interested in presence of absence. What it means to visually catalogue the idea of the space between spaces…” Burge’s work has recently shown at Works on Paper, Steven Amedee, NY and included in the 2015 International Print Biennale. Her work is in various collections, including: the British Museum, New York Public Library, Smithsonian, Philadelphia Museum of Art. She has an MFA from University of Arts in Philadelphia.
Alan Franklin’s drawings and sculptures are a playful exploration of materials and processes, as well as of our perception. Proceeding from a simple strategy and at times the result of laborious repetition, Franklin manages to move the familiar towards the delightfully unexpected, creating artful, intriguing and often profoundly meditative pieces of work. “I want my work to stray or wander away from what we think we know in order to be surprised, not by something new, but by something which is already there.” Franklin was awarded an MA (Fine Art) from Goldsmiths College in 1983 and has since exhibited his work on an international arena from London to Japan. He has completed residences in remote locations such as Iceland, Poland and the Grizedale Forest in Cumbria.
Amy Gear’s practice examines relationships within landscapes – the touching points of seemingly opposing materials. “Sea stacks are offcuts of land. They are the large lumps of rock that have broken off from the mainland and sit alone or in groups surrounded by sea. These stone markers place us. Metaphorical map pins. They fence islands in. You Are Here.
Stack is made entirely from edges of paper. I layered paper to mimic the repetitive squashing of stone, pressed by the earth – the strata – on sea stacks like the Old Man of Hoy in Orkney”.
Amy (b. 1989, Shetland) works across a large range of materials from paper to stone, canvas to bog iron. Graduating from Gray’s School of Art with a BA (Hons) in printmaking, she went on to study an MA in Printmaking at the Royal College of Art. She currently lives in Shetland.
Alexander Massouras combines academic conceptual and formal concerns within painting sculpture, drawing and printmaking. For Repetition/Variation, an installation of multiple variable copies of his Dying Gaul etching is planned for one week, along with examples of his longstanding Divers works, displaying the variety found within a repeated action. Massouras’s work is in collections including the British Museum, the Victoria and Albert Museum, and the Rhode Island School of Design Museum. He was awarded a Paul Mellon Fellowship in 2014, and is currently a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow at Oxford University’s Ruskin School of Art. He read Law and then Art History at Cambridge and wrote his PhD thesis about the concept of the ‘emerging artist’.
Emma McNally’s drawings are a “visualisation of complex systems”, often associated with mappings of geological formations and constellations. They resemble the results of scientific readings yet have been made intuitively. “I mine all sorts of ways of thinking visually about space and time: the spiral paths of particles in bubble chambers, which are infinitely fast and small; images of cellular mitochondria; the Hubble Deep Field images that probe deep time, where all time is held in the surface of the image but can’t be reached. I like looking at images that show fleeting events and images of aerial views of cities at night—all the emergent formations at a macro scale that look like deep-sea organisms in the dark water.” Emma McNally studied Philosophy and English Literature at York University followed by an MA in Political Philosophy at York, 1993. Her dissertation ‘Contingency and Constraint’ explored the dynamic between doubt and certainty in relation to knowledge foundations. Recent exhibitions have included MirrorCity, Hayward Gallery, 2014-2015 and Abstract Drawing, Drawing Room, 2014.
Robert Moon pursues a desire for openness and transparency in his studio practice, and has recently found a focus in making 2D and 3D geometric works from canvas and hessian. Form, material and volumes reveal themselves in space, working somewhere between sculpture, collage, relief, painting and print. Following a Fine Art MA from Chelsea College of Art & Design in 1994, Moon has developed his practice both in the UK and Los Angeles. He lives and works in London.
David Nash is best known for his work in felled wood (usually by a storm or old age), using a chainsaw, an axe and a naked flame to char the surfaces. His drawings on paper are more intimate, but just as characteristic, developing one motif into another, repeating yet varying. In his studio, installed in a chapel in Blaenau Ffestiniog, he produces his stencil prints in this manner, cutting the stencils and sprinkling the natural pigment powders himself, each one differing slightly from the next. Nash studied at Kingston College of Art and completed a Postgraduate degree in 1970 at Chelsea School of Art, he was elected as a Royal Academician in 1999 and awarded an OBE for services to the arts in 2004.
James O’Connell uses the passage of time as a subject matter for his work. The repetitive mixing of colour, loading of the brush and application of paint is a response to today’s acceleration of culture and images and a way to dislodge visual conventions, thus demanding greater space, time and attention. “I often think about Cezanne’s comment, ‘one must see nature as no one has seen it before’, in response to post-industrialism and the changes in our visual experiences, especially now in the digital age.” The intention is to create an object that is both immersive and romantic in terms of contemporary escapism.
Bridget Riley’s two newest works will be shown for the first time. Bagatelle 1 and Bagatelle 2 are her first black and white prints in fifty years. They demonstrate her continuing fascination with repetition, movement and variety in her use of shapes and colours.
Jill Sylvia writes- “Ledger sheets are traditionally used to record the financial transactions of a business or an individual. These papers host the data necessary for accounting information to be compiled and for analysis in determining profit and loss. They are the material of economics. In an attempt to understand our need to quantify our transactions, I employ this paper. I use a drafting knife to individually remove tens of thousands of boxes from this paper. I involve myself in this routine of trying to make time and labour palpable, while communicating its loss. The skeletal pages drape and accumulate, demarcate the time cist for their creation and become the buildings for which they have laid the groundwork. Grids are reconstructed using the excised boxes in order to create a new sense, a new value.” Jill studied in New York and San Francisco, where she currently resides. Her work has been shown across America and in solo shows in London, Basel and Milan.
Jayne Wilton’s current work with the Wellcome Foundation funded Life of Breath Project is continuing her investigations to embrace the in-breath and the pause between breaths, along with her work to document the dynamics of the humble spent breath. The work, Expire shown in Repetition/Variation, references her early recordings of the out-breath. Wilton has an MA (Fine Art) from the Slade School of Fine Art, 2010 and has since completed a Leverhulme funded residency at Brunel University where she worked in collaboration with particle physicists Professor Peter Hobson and Professor Akram Kahn. In 2014 she received ACE funding for a collaborative project with the Royal Brompton Hospital and Harefield Hospitals to record the breath and song of patients with respiratory impairment.