Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Writing on the Walsall

It has been another busy summer of exhibitions and shows in the Midlands, with the New Art Gallery, Walsall, topping the list of brilliant spaces to present work by up and coming talent like Ania Bas and Karen Tam and firmly established artists such as Andy Warhol, Helen Chadwick and Damien Hirst ..

A hidden gem in the crowded outskirts of Birmingham, this structure towers above the town at the top of the pedestrianised shopping district ..

This bronze hand and saddle sculpture points the way up the hill to the where the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse painting of Gordon Cheung currently fills a wall of the third floor main exhibition hall ..

As the catalogue states:

Gordon Cheung "creates hallucinogenic visions inspired by a wide range of sources including science fiction, the literature of authors like J G Ballard and Philip K Dick, 18th century romantic painting, cartoons and current affairs. Uniquely, he prepares his canvases using a collage of stock listings from the Financial Times, which he regards as a metaphor for the data-saturated and wealth-obsessed era in which we live. These compelling works reflect on such contemporary issues as the war on terror, religion, economics, globalisation, the digital age and technology."

Unfortunately, these phone photos don’t do justice to the magnificent scale or detail of the work .. See the link to Gordon's site on this page ..

The series of laser-etched wood carvings based on themes in the “Revelation of St John the Divine” are stunning in their intricacy and clarity of archetypal imagery as though lifted from medieval Biblical plates or the engravings of William Blake ..

This detail shows the ‘Whore of Babylon’ riding ‘The Beast’ and pouring the cup of wrath on the nations .. look closely at all the pictures and you can see the Financial Times stock listings in the background – linking these images and artist’s interpretations of the “end of the world” to the disaster of 9/11 and the on-going credit crisis ..

Additionally, there is a video of Cheung’s apparent obsession with rodeo riders and several other massive paintings that feature the recurring images of stags, bears and Scooby Doo-style ghosts, including a couple large works with the often repeated theme of a palm tree and rainbow (see my own piece The Sun Between Two Palms on the right of this page for a similar thematic design) ..

A series of Cheung’s portraits based on iconographic photos of famous billionaires and dead artists arranged in a grid along one wall reminded me of the George Michael song lyric, “.. if Jesus Christ is alive and well, then how come John Lennon and Elvis are dead ..” ..

Another interesting display at the New Gallery through this autumn is by the installation artist Neil Rock .. his large twisted silicone splatters are reminiscent of the gooey creatures in sci-fi films like ‘Alien’ and ‘The Thing’ ..

This is Rock’s first major solo exhibition in a UK public gallery and features all new work, including the eye-catching turquiose and white pigmented ‘Fanestra’ ..

A minor but well presented exhibition of work by Derby University 2nd year students at the financially troubled Friar Gate Studios was an excellent start to the season .. Ushered through the students’ work by Pride Gallery curator Carol Ann Harries-Wood (herself a student at the university), I was fascinated and impressed by the level of work on show, and her knowledge of each piece ..

And, here’s a little reminder of what was going on last year at this time .. the Cyril Seaton touring show at the Old Gaol in Nottingham .. me with Gareth and Simon - fellow Cruisers I will be exhibiting with at the upcoming 'Memory, Identity and Migration' show at Old Knows Studio ..

Hopefully, I will have some of my own more recent work to show here soon .. keep dropping back, or click the RSS feed to stay in touch .. and Thanks for visiting my Blog ..

In Conversation: Gordon Cheung 2:00pm - 3:00pm Saturday 3 October
Neal Rock: 7 August - 1 November 2009