Push and Paint, Touch and Display

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Athena Papadopoulos, Hagar Schmidhalter, James Lewis, Nicholas Brooks and Samara Scott.


A group exhibition exploring the contemporary still life and its alignment to the body. The meeting of art and the everyday threads its way through the works in this group exhibition. Through a sensitive and playful inquisitiveness for material combination and object juxtaposition, material becomes fractured with real life. A vibration, item of clothing or eye-shadow compact leading us towards corporeality, influenced by the interplay between the mundane and the spectacular.

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This exhibition brings together works that are united by a common theme of the touchable, a hidden element that is astutely relevant to the present. The experience of the touch has changed vastly through the proliferation of technology, particularly through the establishment of touchscreens, oyster cards and further digital tokens that contemporary society uses in order to develop.

For the artists in the exhibition, this often results in the subject choice; an apparent and figurative display of the hand, in some cases simulating the experience of touch and leading to a focus on the haptic. In Athena Papadopoulos’s ‘Uncle Lenny's Lap of Luxury, (From Behind)’ 2013, hair and a photograph of a man in a dressing gown get glued onto a canvas surface, later reformed into a single digital print. Enquiring the narrative of both the used material and the exposed protagonist.

James Lewis’ piece 'The latest squeeze' – a photograph on a wall-sized billboard paper print – is documenting the replica of a missing button from the artist’s jacket. Establishing his own symbolism by referring to the former value of pink ivory, from which the replica has been cut out, the artist is re-enacting a still-life that shifts away from its historically-heavy meaning. He does so by using a mundane object per se in relation to the momentariness of material value. In this case it almost appears as if the button is asking for the justification of its lost value.

In ‘Push and Paint, Touch and Display’ the occurrence of flatness and vast extent is just as essential as the potentiality of symbolic objects. The attempt to bring both together can be found in the work of Hagar Schmidhalter, who evaluates both aspects equally by challenging the limits of the canvas and the relationship between surface structures.

Schmidhalter’s inkjet prints ‘131’ and ‘197’ contain collaged images of fashion magazines, perhaps to display clothing conventions and possibly to look for traces of the canvas in corporeality. Schmidhalter ‘yarns’ those extracts further, laying a simple piece of fabric flat on the floor.

Samara Scott approaches flatness and the sensuous from a contemporary consumers perspective by devouring symbolic information, stimulation and material associations. The domestic atmosphere of her works is in a way ‘messing’ with the still-life motif.

Works in this exhibition express the technological establishment of the touchable. They do so by questioning the sensory experience of touch through different scenarios; by establishing the nakedness of it or by reconstructing a memory. In Nicholas Brooks's film 'Arrastre' the title denotes a drag in 'Tango' dance terminology and is also the name for a crude apparatus used for pulverizing ore. Populated by unfamiliar objects and driven by obscure forces, the film explores a domain between still life, mechanics and dance.

Co-curators Alys Williams and Vlada Tcharyeva

Selected press

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