Simon Callery Abstract Critical Thinking

Real Painting

12 June 2015 — 2 August 2015

Artists: Simon Callery, Adriano Costa, Deb Covell, Angela de la Cruz, Lydia Gifford, David Goerk, Alexis Harding, Jo McGonigal, DJ Simpson, Finbar Ward.

Castlefield Gallery is pleased to present Real Painting, an exhibition of new and existing work by ten artists working nationally and internationally including 2010 Turner Prize nominee Angela de la Cruz and 2004 John Moores Painting Prize winner Alexis Harding. Curated by Deb Covell and Jo McGonigal the exhibition emphasizes the essential grammar of painting, considering not necessarily what a painting means but what it ‘does’.

Each artist shares a purposeful interest in the material components of painting and its ability to assume its own presence, rather than being symbolic of something else. Slipping between painting and object, the visual and physical, the work in the exhibition highlights the expressive capacity of the materials and processes specific to painting to be sites of investigation in their own right.

Throughout the exhibition painting is transformed from subject matter to object matter, transcending its flat surface to fix the viewer’s attention on ‘seeing’ as both a visual and physical encounter.

 ‘I make physical paintings – because I am interested in the viewer as a physical being – a fully sentient, inquisitive, perceptive, decision-making, information-processing, emotional, idiosyncratic thinking being. I want the painting to involve and engage the full attention of that person’ (Simon Callery (Interview in Abstract Critical 22/8/12) Questions for Angela de la Cruz and Simon Callery: Enantiodromia Part I. FOLD Gallery, London)

A commissioned essay (downloadable below) and a talk by Craig Staff (Reader in Fine Art at The University of Northampton and author of After Modernist Painting: The History of a Contemporary Practice published by I.B.Tauris, 2013) accompanies the exhibition.

About the artists

Simon Callery (b.1960) initially educated in Athens, Greece, Callery went on to gain a first-class honours degree from Cardiff College of Art (1983), he now lives and works in London. Exhibiting internationally Callery is represented by FOLD Gallery, London. He exhibited in the John Moores Painting Prize (1993), and later included in the Saatchi Gallery’s Young British Artists III (1994). Recent solo exhibitions include: Physical Painting, FOLD Gallery, London (2010); Pit Paintings, University of the Arts, London (2007); Simon Callery, Philippe Casini Gallery, Paris (2005); and Inland Sealand, 33 Newland, Dorset (2012). He was involved in Arts Council England’s Estuary Project, Thames Estuary (2011). He has work in public collections across Europe, including: Tate, England; Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art, Oslo, Norway; and Comune di Carrara, Italy.

Adriano Costa (b. 1975, São Paulo) lives and works in São Paulo where he graduated with a BA from ECA-Universidade São Paulo. He is represented by Sadie Coles HQ, London and Mendes Wood, São Paulo, Brazil. He has had numerous solo exhibitions including: Galeria Polinésia, São Paulo (2009); Galerie Krinzinger, Vienna (2013); Sadie Coles HQ, London (2014), and has had works in group exhibitions including: Mitologias (Mythologies),Cité Internationale des Arts, Paris (2011); Imagine Brazil, Astrup Fearnley Museet, Oslo (2013); and Time Space Poker Face, Be-Part, Waregem, Belgium (2013). He completed a residency with Kiosko Galería in Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia (2010) and was included in the Festival Internacional de Arte Contemporânea SESC_VideoBrasil, SESC Belenzinho, São Paulo (2011). He has work in many private and public collections including the Zabludowicz Collection and the Guggenheim Collection. |

Deb Covell (b.1966, Stockton on Tees) lives and works in Teesside and is represented by OBJECT / A, Manchester. She received her BA in Fine Art from Liverpool Polytechnic (1989) and her MA in Fine Art from University of East London (2002). Recent exhibitions include: Sha Boogie Bop, Anonymous Gallery, New York (2014); From Nowt to Summat, MIMA, Middlesbrough (2014); Absolute Zero, PS2, MIMA , Middlesbrough (2014); Aesthetica Art Prize, York St Mary’s, York (2014); Secret, Royal College of Art, London (2014); Zero, Untitled Gallery, Manchester (2013); North South Divine, WW Gallery, London (2013); This That and the Other, Platform A Gallery, Middlesbrough (2012); and Afternoon Tea,  Venice Biennale, Venice (2011). Forthcoming exhibitions include: We Insist, International Biennial of non- objective art, Pont de Claix, France (2015); and a solo exhibition at OBJECT / A, Manchester (2015/16). She was a finalist in the 2014 Aesthetica Art Prize and her works are held in private and public collections including the MIMA Collection, Middlesbrough, UK.

Angela de la Cruz (b. 1965, Galicia, Northwest Spain) lives and works in London, she is represented by Lisson Gallery, London. De la Cruz received a BA in Philosophy from the University of Santiago de Compostela in 1989 before moving to London where she graduated from Goldsmiths College with a BA in Fine Art (1994) and an MA in Sculpture and Critical Theory from the Slade School of Art (1996). She was nominated for the Turner Prize in 2010 the same year as her solo exhibition at the Camden Arts Centre, London. De la Cruz was selected for Adventures of the Black Square: Abstract Art and Society 1915-2015, Whitechapel, London (2015). Selected solo exhibitions include: Escombros, Fundación Luis Seoane, Spain (2015); Larger Than Life, Galerie Thomas Schulte, Berlin, Germany (2015); Angela de la Cruz: Transfer, Lisson Gallery, London (2011); and Angela de la Cruz: Burst, Lisson Gallery, Milan (2014). Her work is held in numerous private and public collections including: Tate, England; the British Council Collection; Contemporary Art Society Collection, England; Collection of Contemporary Art, Fundacion La Caixa Fundacion, Spain; National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, Australia; FRAC Nord Pas De Calais, France.

Lydia Gifford (b.1979, London) lives and works in London, she is represented by Laura Bartlett Gallery, London. Gifford received a BA in Fine Art, at the Chelsea School of Art and Design, London (2006). Following this with an MA in Fine Art (2008) at the Royal College of Art, London, winning the Valerie Beston Young Artists’ Prize the same year. Solo exhibitions include: Siding, Kunsthaus Baselland, Basel (2013); Drawn, BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead, UK (2014); and most recently, To. For. With, Laura Bartlett Gallery, London (until 20 May 2015). Selected group exhibitions include: Minimal Myth, Museum Boijmans van Beuningen, Rotterdam; White, Simon Dickinson, New York; Upcoming shows include: Adventures in Bronze, Clay and Stone, curated by Adam Carr, Arezzo City Arts Festival, Arezzo (Jun-Oct 2015); and Women’s Art Society II, Mostyn, Llandudno, Wales (2015).

David Goerk (b. 1952, New Jersey) lives and works in New York and is represented by Howard Scott Gallery, New York and Larry Becker Contemporary Art, Philadelphia. He has a BFA from Philadelphia College of Art (1975) and an MFA from Indiana University, Bloomington (1977). Goerk was awarded the Purchase Award by Perkins Center for the Arts (1990) and the Mildred Bougher Award (1993). As an international artist, he has exhibited across America and Europe, including: Studio La Città, Verona, Italy (2001); New Works, Howard Scott Gallery, New York (2009); Shift: New and Recent Work, Larry Becker Contemporary Art, Philadelphia (2009); Now and Then, Howard Scott Gallery, New York (2014). His work is included in many public and private collections, including Philadelphia Museum of Art; Rutgers University, New Jersey; and the Panza di Biumo Collection in Milan. |

Jo McGonigal (b. 1969, Manchester) lives and works in Manchester and is represented by OBJECT / A, Manchester. She is currently undertaking a practice based PhD at the University of Leeds that examines Painting and Materiality (Amanda Burton Scholarship). She studied Fine Art at Bristol Polytechnic (now University of West of England) and later completed her MFA at Manchester School of Art (2008) (AHRC award). Forthcoming exhibitions include: Poppositions 2015, Belgium (alongside Art Brussels); Concept for a Temporary Cultural Intervention, Turnhout (Lokaal01), Antwerp; and Between Painting & Place, a solo show at Platform A Gallery, Middlesbrough (8 May-18 June 2015). In addition to her own practice McGonigal has worked as an arts professional for over 20 years including: curating projects for FACT, Liverpool, and Liverpool Biennial; establishing Corridor8 (an international journal for art & writing); and lecturing in Fine Art at Leeds Metropolitan University and Manchester School of Art at Manchester Metropolitan University.

Alexis Harding (b.1973) lives and works in London and is represented by Mummery + Schnelle, London. He graduated from Goldsmiths College with a BA in Fine Art (1995) and won the John Moores Painting Prize 2004. Harding has had solo and group exhibitions internationally including: In Progress: Rainbow Voids, Tondos and Exit Paintings, The Nunnery, London (2013); Project Room, Galerij S65, Aalst, Belgium (1997); Fault Lines, Galleria Marabini, Milan (2009); Tondos and Bi-Products, Rubicon Gallery, Dublin (2011); Didier Moiselet Collection; Caen Museum, Normandy, France (2012); Long Room Drying Depot, Two Rooms Gallery, New Zealand (2012); Substance and Accident, Mummery + Schnelle, London (2012); and Somewhat Abstract, Nottingham Contemporary, Nottingham (2014). He currently has work in several collections, including the Arts Council England; Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin; and the Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool.

DJ Simpson (b. 1966) lives and works in London and is represented by Helga de Alvear Gallery, Madrid, Spain. He graduated from Reading University with a BA in Fine Art (1990) and Goldsmiths College, University of London with an MA in Fine Art (1998). Past exhibitions include: It’s All About The Landscape, Grizedale Arts, Coniston Institute, Coniston (2014); MIX, Helga de Alvear, Madrid (2012); Small Scale Works, PS Projectspace, Amsterdam (2013). Simpson was commissioned by the Contemporary Art Society to create a major work near the Olympic Park in East London (2012). His work is included in several public and private collections including; the Arts Council Collection, UK; Leeds Art Gallery, UK; Fundación Helga de Alvear, Madrid – Cáceres, Spain; and Museum Jan Cunen, Oss, The Netherlands.

Finbar Ward (b.1990, London) lives and works in London and is represented by FOLD Gallery, London. Ward graduated from The Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art, Oxford University (2013). Solo exhibitions include: Geukens & De Vil Contemporary Art, Knokke, Belgium (2015); and Make Be More Than One Start, FOLD Gallery, London (2014). Group exhibitions include: Take 1, The Greenroom, Krakow (2012); New Order II: British Art Today, Saatchi Gallery, London (2014); 30 Years of the Future, Castlefield Gallery, Manchester (2014). His works are held in numerous private and public collections including the Saatchi Collection.

Paint, Activated: Castlefield Gallery’s Real Painting — Reviewed

On visiting Castlefield’s new show, Daniel McMillan finds artists that shed the illusory surface of painting in favour of the actuality of the ‘stuff’ from which it is comprised…

“One must remember that writing on art replaces presence by absence by substituting the abstraction of language for the real thing”

– Robert Smithson, Incidents of Mirror-Travel in the Yucatan (1969)

According to the press release, Castlefield Gallery’s new exhibition, Real Painting, considers ‘not necessarily what a painting means but what it does’. This is problematic, particularly for your casual arts reviewer: for to discuss what a painting ‘does’ is to translate a kind of language – a nonverbal exchange between artist, material and viewer.

The exhibition, a selection of works by national and international artists curated by contributing artists Deb Covell and Jo McGonigal, sheds the illusory surface of painting in favour of the actuality of the ‘stuff’ from which it is comprised. Painting’s capacity for signification, beyond signifying itself, is left behind. What then can the works which make up Real Painting be said to ‘do’?

“Gravity and time have been allowed to play a part in the formation of the pictorial”

Firstly, they can be said to allude to the activity of painting and to the activity of paint, painting (v.). On a sheet of MDF on a wall in the upper floor of the gallery, a dollop of bubblegum pink gloss paint has been encouraged to spread, drip and wrinkle by being re-hung at various stages of its congealment (Alexis Harding, Hood (2012)). Gravity and time have been allowed to play a part in the formation of the pictorial.

Finbar Ward’s Untitled (2014), a work which appears to be composed of detritus from the artist’s studio bin, can be ‘read’ as a reflection on the interminable act of ‘doing’ painting. Traditionally, the act of painting could be understood as having an endpoint because it had a goal. It was finished when whatever was being depicted was rendered in paint on a flat surface. In leaving behind the representational image, painting can thus never reach a point of completion. The question here is not: ‘what does a painting do?’, but: ‘when is a painting done?’.

In referencing nothing beyond themselves, the works in Real Painting are secondly resigned to reference Painting (n.). Because they shun the static picture plane, it is inevitable that, within an art historical context, the real paintings will be discussed within the lineage of Modernist Abstraction.

A ‘practice’ founded on an understanding of painting as an entity that exists in the real world can be traced back to the early 20th century – to the Russian Avant-Garde and to the Constructivist concepts of Faktura (materiality) and Tektonika (the space material occupies). Where the work in Real Painting differs is in the contributing artists rejection of the notion that a painting has any real world use.

“The idea that an artwork exists independently of the world is easily disproved, but it is a particularly obsolete concept within the context of this exhibition”

In Painting qua painting, the accompanying essay commissioned by the gallery, Craig Staff (Reader in Fine Art at The University of Northampton) refers to the practice and writings of Post-Minimalist Richard Tuttle as some kind of art world landmark towards which the works in the exhibition are drawn. ‘It is however an estimable fact than an artwork exists in its own reality,’ Tuttle writes, ‘and in that exists a certain cause and effect pattern which has baffled the ancients as well as myself.’

The idea that an artwork exists independently of the world is easily disproved, but it is a particularly obsolete concept within the context of this exhibition – for, if we are to believe the exhibition title, the work requires us to view it as ‘real’ material, created and located in the world, or as much of the ‘world’ as a contemporary art gallery in Manchester can be said to resemble.

“The space around these works is as important as as their surface”

I am thinking in particular of Deb Covell’s Nowt to Summat (2014), a sheet of dried acrylic paint which hangs from a rail attached to the ceiling of the lower gallery, and Angela de la Cruz’s Compressed 1 (White) (2010), an aluminum wall piece which looks like a heavily discounted defect purchased from a Donald Judd factory shop. The space around these works is as important as as their surface. We can’t ‘read’ them — the objects require us to approach them from a position of disinterest, to move around them and let them do their work.

Here I am, getting at the effect of painting, or better put the sensation of viewing it. To translate this language is to become an interpreter to a dialogue which defies translation. Art world copywriters use clumsy ‘tensions’ between an endless list of dichotomies, most of which can reduced to the same nothing/something, as a stand in for this exchange. Painting, alone, ‘does’ nothing. It acts when activated. In the context of a review, perhaps all one can say is attend and let the works ‘do’.

Daniel McMillan

See Real Painting at Castlefield Gallery, Manchester, until 2 August 2015 — free entry

This article has been commissioned by the Contemporary Visual Arts Network North West (CVAN NW), as part of a regional critical writing development programme, supported by the National Lottery through Arts Council England  —  see more here #writecritical

Posted on 30/06/2015 by thedoublenegative

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