The Depot and 48HOURS presents:
Instructional Objects under the Silver Moonlight
7th - 9th March
As if an oracular folk tale had fallen off its long-told path, engulfed by a tsunami that swallowed up both its maidens and men, this exhibition leaves only the peculiar detritus of a previous life: a post-apocalyptic landscape lit by the shimmering (and black-eyed) face of the moon. Under its glow, matter that once would have been seen to have no mind awakens. And as Alchemy would predict, an after-life begins.
Emerging from Romanticism, of natural phenomena, Maurice’s more recent work on view in this solo exhibition at the Depot, mischievously borrows from histories of magic, mythology, spiritualism and the occult. Hijacking the mythological meaning of infusing the lifeless with life. He reanimates the conventionally two-dimensional cartoon strip, extracting characters from its sanitised white pages and solidifying them within the physical space of the viewer.
The exhibition seems to ask: when does a cartoon stop being a cartoon? As flat surfaces become more sculptural with Maurice’s use of found fabrics, and lines that were once crisp become painterly, the buoyant boundaries of Comic Abstraction, to which the work belongs, spring further from the comic book frame. Like certain other practitioners of this genre working in three-dimensional forms, including Lucas Dillon and Murray O’Grady, Maurice questions the very medium and status of cartoon as a sub-art.
Perhaps satirically, then, he uses ragged materials, old bed sheets and linen offcuts rather than the clean canvases traditionally favoured for the creation of “high” art: more hobo than highbrow, for which the pilgrim’s bindle will vouch. But what might seem like a slippery slope towards Pop art, is in fact a continuation of the alchemical and pan-psychic theme of birth, death and rebirth that preoccupies Maurice’s current art practice. The Comic, though, retains some tongue in cheek.
Like the ridiculousness of the Futurist running sausage dog by Giacomo Balla, whose countless limbs “snap-catch” the little creature in mid-motion, Maurice’s Infinity Dog presents a splayed array of heads as a smear frame would in cartoon imagery, while interlacing occult symbolism into his own pictorial vernacular of cartoon animation: the interwoven body of the dog appropriates the infinity sigil that summons life cycles as in the Emerald Text of Alchemy.
And if all that alchemy seems too esoteric, it doesn’t really matter because, after all, when the sun rises everything returns to normal.
April 18th – 20th, 2013
A Dream Sequence for Old Boot.
There’s a sequence in Wallace McCutcheon’s short film The Sculptor’s Nightmare, made in 1907, when an artist commissioned to make the new bust that will replace Theodore Roosevelt is detained overnight in a prison cell for creating a scene in a restaurant while blowing his commission (before he has started it) on a boozy night with his life model and muse. A dream sequence in his cell follows, filled with anxiety of uncompleted projects, hallucinations induced through excesses of alcohol and the sloppy materiality of clay. The cell walls are painted surfaces of rocksóa faux set to create some sense of a cell/cave. You can almost see the painted brush strokes that shape the rocks in the background, or maybe that is the youtube compression of one of the earliest analogue films ever made? Three plinths appear as the artist falls to sleep in his cell. One. Two. Three. Each plinth sits in front of the painted rocks that make up the wall behind. On the plinths are lumps of clay. Slowly, in a juttering stop-frame sequence, tiny pieces of clay move upwards against gravity, apparently unaided, slipping to the top of the mound and slowly forming shoulders, a chin, a neck and then three figures while the artist continues to sleep (and dream) as the faces of FAIRBANKS, BRYAN and TAFT (the prospective candidates for Roosevelt’s position) are miraculously constructed unaided. The artist (still in his dream) ‘wakes’ to his finished commission, and celebrates by sharing a drink with his new works. The clay bust of William Taft, known for his love of a pipe, billows gusts of smoke from the recess of his mouth as the artist raises a glass.
Dec 13th – Jan 12th, 2013
If your indisposition is a burden, if it affects your life, if it tyrannises you and annihilates your desires, here is an ancestral remedy to cure almost everything, but be careful, it is precarious. This method is not taught in any books and can not be accessible to everyone. To make it work, you need to believe in it. Believe blindly. You have to devote yourself to the spirits you will try to call. From this moment, such an act of submission is not accessible to all : prudes, cowards and religious people may rebuff. This is nothing else but black magic, magic that has harmful repercutions on your life and on the ones close to you. In order to act, there is no other choice but to empty yourself from your consciousness : you must sedate it. Firstly, you will give birth to eighteen entities, each of them symbolizing evils buried since the beginning of Humanity. Eighteen apostles of evil whom you will know nothing about, whom you should not try to give meaning, but rather materialise as soon as you detect them. These spirits can take different forms, and their representations change according on the person considering them. Their nature is never-changing, buried in the most archaic layer of our minds. Once materialisation is operated, you have to prove allegiance by exposing these evil faces : these forces arrogantly feed themselves vicariously through the individual’s attention, here is the secret of this unusual recovery. By flattering the egos of these insatiable visages, you will allow them to enter their own process of creation, and the magic will happen. By entrusting them with a feeling of independance, you will fully prove that you are only the hand submitted to their will… I must recall that this is not an entirely safe experience for you and your loved ones, but past recoverings have proven the cure’s efficiency… Therefore, after a period of gestation, these small evils will concentrate their energies, all carrying a common will for revenge and you will see, nights after nights, the birth of their univocal venger arbiter : the golem. Protean, and largely capricious, the golem’s power of healing is immense. Traditionnally, the spirit would penetrate darkest abysses of individuals to make them vomit on the surface. Do not be shocked or the magic would be shattered. Embrace the interpretation of your real nature. Do not fear recovery anymore.
Nov 29th – Dec 1st, 2012
Nov 22nd – 24th, 2012
Stevie Ronnie - Brass Book. Nov 15th- 17th, 2012
“In a word where books have long lost all likeness to books, the real book can no longer be one.
(Adorno, Minima Moralia)
Adorno is here talking about the corrosive effect of modern life on our concepts of integrity, identity and authenticity, three areas which are very much foregrounded by Stevie Ronnie’s Brass Book project. Like the sly old dialectician he was, Adorno was also hinting there could be a certain liberty in being freed from rigid notions of what a book is. The positive elements of that freedom, the ways it can restore us to community, to self determination and self-expression, are at the heart of Brass Book.
“Working with a brass band and a writers’ group, collaborating with a furniture maker and deploying his own expertise in digital technology, Stevie Ronnie has produced an immersive experience which goes beyond the conventional book into three meta-volumes, where printed questions prompt hypertextual responses, and community is affirmed by musical self-portraits, archival images and the film of his own subtle,
W. N. Herbert
In the final leg of a national tour artist, writer and technologist Stevie Ronnie presents Brass Book, a literary artwork that approaches the possibilities of digital literature from a unique angle. It builds on the idea that books are a very successful technology in themselves: for hundreds of years we have loved them for their look, feel, smell, convenience and portability as much as the words that sit on their pages.
By preserving the tactile elements of a literary experience while embracing the possibilities of the digital medium, Brass Book poses the question: what if digital technology were harnessed to enhance the traditional book rather than replace it?
This work will be shown alongside a wider selection of Stevie Ronnie’s interdisciplinary artworks which
re-imagine the concept of literature in the digital age.
Brass Book was commissioned for Brass: Durham International Festival by Durham City Arts with support from Durham County Council, Arts Council England, The Sage Gateshead and Culture Lab.
8th – 10th Nov, 2012
Curated by Daniel Barnes
Richard Stone’s England is a land of stilted possibility; it is a fable, shrouded in a monochrome fog that conceals a world of unfurling romanticisms. And it is reaching its end.
Stone takes a radical approach to reworking themes of popular mythology, cultural identity and collective memory, based on a series of conversations with curator Daniel Barnes.
In an awkward gap between painting and sculpture, Stone has created a single installation from disparate yet distinct works which take the viewer to the edge of an almost imperceptible decline.
The centrepiece of the installation is a group of paintings, where monochromatic, stormy surfaces gradually unveil ripples of colour that belie Stone’s deconstruction of the English landscape.
In the eye of this quietly violent storm is a vision of a world where there is only a passing distinction between myth and reality as if all that is solid melts into air.
Accompanying works see figures encased in wax, from miners, petrified in a balletic state of motion, to the magpie unable to bear its own sorrow. A delicately pencilled gate looks out on to an idyllic but absent view, whilst a monumental oak shield speaks of an ideologically tarnished heroism.
The installation is a portent storm that threatens to swell and consume everything in its wake. It oscillates between possibility and paradox, archaeology and invention, history and fantasy.
At the end of england, memory is the only reality and objects are the only trace of what has been lost.
in association with NewThey, newthey.co.uk
P L O T
Rebecca Griffiths, Alex Strachan and Dexter Dymoke. Oct 25th – Nov 3rd
P l o t brings together the work of three Royal College of Art graduates: Dexter Dymoke, Rebecca Griffiths and Alex Strachan, whose work explores the intimate connections between space and sculpture.
P l o t can be defined as a trajectory, a location, or a designated space within and beyond the body where new processes occur. Implicit in the term is a form of secrecy, a kind of devious artistic strategy that takes place in a neutral space, disconnected from the everyday. Equally, this may refer to a site of devotion where senses are themselves opened and extended.
The exhibition is the result of an ongoing conversation around the way in which artists function in the context of a city, taking on the ambiguous role of both consumer and maker. This discussion focuses on the disassociation from the makeup of a familiar environment where the means of production are no longer understood. It reflects an uncomfortable relationship between the way we live and designed surfaces that structure our world.
The work in this exhibition takes the activity of making as paramount to the work itself: making becomes political and social, capable of creating new relationships, values, economies and tools. The made object is finally an undefined vehicle, containing and carrying a summation of the exchange between the artist and the urban territory inhabited.
Daniel Sparkes – About Looking at Hamburgers. Aug 9th – 18th
Galleries Goldstein is proud to present ‘About Looking at Hamburgers’, a new body of work by Daniel Sparkes. This show uses his characteristic fusion of the everyday with the fantastical to unravel man’s difficult, and often flawed, relationship with nature.
Sparkes works in the emerging genre of Comic Abstraction, performing interventions into the mundane fabric of life by injecting it with darkly comic motifs. The quotidian becomes a vehicle for social commentary and critique as Sparkes infuses it with his cartoonish characters that falter uncomfortably in a space between Seuss and Disney. This is achieved through the corruption of found images, where Sparkes makes delicate ink drawings that invest the image with equal amounts of outrage and wonder. His early billboard works around Bristol were comprised of spray-painted appendages to advertisements that unmasked the banal absurdity of consumer culture. Sparkes brings to the surface a certain horror that simmers at the unanalysed subterranean level of culture, adding colour, vision and even magic to grim depictions of people, animals and landscapes.
The space in between reality and illusion is the site of Sparkes’ investigations, where he excavates with both muted violence and brutal honesty the timeless themes of life and death. The work draws a line between popular culture and scientific investigation, at once revealing an essence and accentuating a surface. The world is sliced, spliced, butchered and fragmented in his work; whether it is a desolate landscape, a nondescript face or a breathing animal, Sparkes enacts a metaphysical dissection that crosses effortlessly from scratching the moss from the surface to stripping back all the layers to reveal a complex interiority to all life.
‘About Looking at Hamburgers’ is in one sense a continuation of this practice, but in another sense it is the tethering of a number of grand themes in Sparkes’ work. Comic Abstraction enables Sparkes to make a serious point while also enacting a mockery of industrialised man’s disconnection with nature through, for example, the portrayal of animal butchery as a quixotic cartoon scenario. Life itself is dissected so that where there should be organs, bones and meat, images of palm trees and domestic scenes unfurl. The exhibition is comprised of sprawling ink drawings that depict isometric landmasses, macabre pet montage paintings and a series of landscapes depicting Seussian gods. As Sparkes himself has said, these works ‘conjure a mythological foreboding through an aesthetic of fraudulent science’, which digs to the dark core of a world so mired in superficial banality.
July 5th – July 21st 2012
Conceptually, Teague Wright’s work begins with ideas relating to cartography and geography, by extension the occupation and surveillance of this geography, and the visual cues of ownership of it too, i.e. This is not a Romantic-pastoral vision of the geographic world though, as Teague Wright’s practice and vision of nature is mediated and explored through technology. In Live From Distant Shores, exhibited at the Barbican Centre in 2011, Teague Wright presented three large screens showing streamed surveillance footage of unknown ports, where as night fell on the Barbican’s artificial lake, the sun rose over the far-away aquatic landscapes. At the other end of his practice, at his works most spatial, was the show Perfidious Gleam, with artist Jack Bechtler, Teague Wright transformed Recession Studios through the use of light and an aluminium reflective sculpture. The reflective surfaces were splayed with rows of flags, a common visual symbol in Teague Wright’s work.
The flag is a visual substitute for physical ownership, and works too, as an easy (appropriate) emblem for Teague Wright’s work. This is especially relevant in relation to his new show, Fate of the Postern. In 2011 people using Google Earth began to notice large, abstract chalk shapes in the steppes of the Gansu Province of China, a green light for conspiracy theorists; they were posited first as alien signals, then as a map of Washington DC for Chinese bombers to practice on, before finally being confirmed as a calibration grid for Chinese spy satellites.
In Live From Distant Shores, where Teague Wright was interested in the surveillance of the unremarkable, he is here reconfiguring this interest in land that is primarily used to facilitate surveillance. The land and it’s marking are transmuted in Teague Wright’s work, turned into a steel sculpture, which is left to hang precipitously in the middle of the gallery. The sculpture is paired with a large sheet of aluminium, beaten to resemble the contours and topography of land, sitting adjacent to the sculpture, propped against the gallery wall. Despite the aluminiums obvious analogue to the desert landscape upon which the shapes were found, both sculptures are non-specific abstractions of geographical features. Teague Wright’s work often works around ideas between the figurative and documentary aspects of representation; taking a documentarians eye for the peculiar, strange and fascinating, and then re-presenting it, as if to include the tag line that prefixes films, based on a true story.
And like a film with an omniscient narrator, the imposing materials and size of the sculptures gives the viewer the vantage of being able to see Teague Wright’s transfigured landscapes from an improbable, god-like position. In Fate of the Postern, the representation of marking / landscape are physically removed from each other, sitting in different parts of the gallery. It is the natural world reconfigured by the use of man-made objects, further taking Teague Wright’s work away from the idea of the nature as a Romantic idyll, or sublime fascination in its imposing landscapes.
Fate of the Postern is the first in a new series of works that will pick up on the shows themes. Titled Momentary Monuments it will explore Teague Wright’s fascination with the de-environmentalisation of objects and artefacts from their natural, camouflaging setting, and re-presenting them, without the context of the landscape to define them.
Felix L. Petty, Off Modern
May 3rd – 26th, 2012
Galleries Goldstein at Goodhood are proud to present an exhibition of new works by American artist
Mark Mulroney. The exhibition of Comic Abstraction’s will comprise of small paintings on board (actually on old hardback book covers).
Below is an interview with the artist:
Theres a degree of abstraction in your work, can you talk about the form and Abstraction of objects and how you use them?
I use what I need. Sometimes that is something recognizable to ground a picture in a specific environment and sometimes that is just a blob of color to provide contrast and depth in a picture. I don’t make a point of abstracting or not, it all comes about intuitively as I decide what the picture requires.
Your attitude to colour?
Generally I like to keep the palette minimal or mostly warm or cool colors and then use one color that runs against all that to give the picture a bit of tension.
The objects, is there a certain aesthetic that makes you choose these things, a link to your work or you….?
I suppose the aesthetic I prefer is a very tight graphic one. I never got into pushing paint around although I do like it in other artists work.
…and at times do these objects become characters in a scene?
Every object is a character. They might not have a specific name or personality but they do play a role in the story of the picture. I think it is impossible to avoid that. Any artists that places one blob next to another instantly creates a narrative whether they like it or not.
Are you stripping things back to fragments?
I think so. I have tried to simplify things over that last couple of years. I used to want to try and create really impressive, technically facile pictures but lately that just seems like masturbation more than art.
Do you find yourself communicating with the characters you create ever?
Of course. I draw one character and then I find myself deciding if the next character will want to kill or fuck the first one.
Obviously you create collage with paintings on… but your paintings, I’ve often described as being like painted collages, is collage part of the process of the paintings ( and all of your work)?
I use collage a lot. Sometimes very I make a very straight forward collage and other times I repaint some elements. Usually I do this because I want the element a different size or color and the original collage element is what it is and I want it to be something different. I don’t think about it to much I usually just look at the picture and do what the picture needs. If that means that I glue something down I do that and if that means that I repaint something I do that.
There is a sense of humour in your work?
I suppose that would have to be answered by whoever looks at what I am doing. Some folks say yes,
others say no.
Any thoughts on the energy, flow, balance, repetition and variation in your work? I mean, there is often a contrast of two or 3 different styles in a painting, really crisp elements against splurges of colour, and recently spraycan strokes…
I am always trying to add to the tools I can employ in a picture. Mostly so I don’t get bored. Stencils, collage, scratching, drawing, whatever I think will work I do it while always trying to avoid novelty.
The book covers you’ve been using as the objects to paint on, is there anything to discuss here?
That is an easy answer. I have lots of books and it is just what is around me. If I had lots of cereal boxes I’d probably be working on those instead of book covers.
Biggest influences / what is the must hit shit at the moment for you?
I really like kids drawings and various flea market craft projects that I find around town but what really gets me excited lately is the new Cavalera Conspiracy album and Wild Birds and Peacedrums. I listen to those two bands a lot.
Iron Maiden covers were the start of drawing for you?
You bet. My brother had lots of them and they seemed dangerous so I used to copy them in pencil.
Where are you from? where do you live… how is the weather system, describe your surroundings daily life and studio?
I am from Pennsylvania but am currently living in upstate New York. My routine is rather dull but works for me. Up at 7:30, at my desk by 8:30, check email for 20 minutes, work until 12:00, eat lunch for 20 minutes, back to work until 5:30, meet my wife as she walks home from work, have dinner and do dishes, back to work until 8:30, shower, watch something and have a drink, go to bed at 10:30. When I am working that can be anything. Somedays I work on a carving all day while other days I just cut naked ladies out of magazines and glue them into my naked lady book.
Sketchbooks are an important part of your practice?
Very much so. It is my record of where I have been and where I want to go. I do most everything in their first and try and figure out what I am trying to say or do as an artist.
Favourite cartoon character?
Ren, from Ren and Stimpy. He is a skinny little asshole like myself.
Chile Rellenos!! My wife makes them on my birthday.
March 1st – 10th, 2012
Galleries Goldstein is pleased to present ‘Beg, Borrow and Steal’, an exhibition of new work by the renowned Graffiti writer, Petro.
Petro’s work is characterised by its endless experimentation with letter formation, a sometimes naive and often nostalgic early eighties aesthetic and a constant drive to subvert the laws of the alphabet and even Graffiti. His endless search is for the perfect expressive solution.
His letterworks are often aided by the inclusion of found objects to construct a personal narrative. The result is works which fall somewhere between artefact and installation through an arresting blend of cultural references and idiosyncratic obsessions.
In Petro’s hands, graffiti interrogates the boundary between aesthetics and meaning, creating works which are at once striking and absorbing. There is a very deep commitment to a tradition of Graffiti writing, which is evident in the adoption of specific styles and in the attempt to push the limits of these styles. Petro takes the core of Graffiti as self-expression to its logical extreme by embedding in the work his own journey of self-discovery. Ralph Lauren, childhood fantasies, from BMX to eighties Hip Hop, showing off and manic collecting are the cornerstones of Petro’s identity, which are weaved into his work.
For Petro, Graffiti is not art, or not only art, nor is it an idle hobby – it is a lifestyle, a way of being and carving out a place in the world. Through relentless movement from one place to the next and continual repetition, Petro makes work wherever he is, responding to his environment, creating yet another portrait of his vivacious self. His lifelong wandering has now brought him back to London, where his familiar blend of restless energy and obsession have been put to work on a new show of his gloriously nostalgic and yet highly contemporary Graffiti. The work is a response to his surroundings, but a deeply obsessive personal response.
In this show, Petro presents his very own Ralph Lauren collection in which he reproduced specific styles and sports objects as a homage to his favourite garments, as well as a collection of new Graffiti works on paper.
GaG - So why Ralph?
Petro - How long have you got. I was a mid 80′s hip hop, an’ off the back of bmxing garms loving kid. So was immersed in the new found label obsessive. It was your identity, it made you part of something, a pair of nikes was all you needed to know you liked Hip Hop. No other bods were wearing them really. I’ve allways loved clobber and labels, you’d be mad not to, right? I could never get enough. Garms and Graffiti, have been a life time addiction, not like those passing phases, fruit machines, LSD or vinyl collecting… they had to stop. I remember the first Ralph Lauren item that came into my life, it was a gift, a blue and white striped rugby sweat with Polo embroidered on the cuff. I was 15. It was incredible. I’d never heard of Polo before. I wore it to death. I’ve worn Polo from then on, but my allegencies to Polo, took a turn when i began to ONLY wear Polo, about…i cant recall, sources say…about 1996/97. It made my life complete, easy, one tailor, one search, one love for all that is Polo. I had friends too, worms* related, who understood and felt the same, not to maybe the same extremes, but it was ours. Years later we discovered the Lo-Lifes, this was validation. The science of RL to me is perfection, the quality (it lasts forever), the cut, sometimes I can even fit into a small, the style, the classic, the bizarre, the B-boyness, the attention to detail, the fabric, the degrees of people wearing it, the topics, the graphics, the everything, the classic, the king of style…………one label, Polo Ralph Lauren
*The Fresh Worms Crew
Hotel Palenque – Nicolas Deshayes
GalleriesGoldstein was proud to host a one-night project by Hotel Palenque, exhibiting its fourth commissioned artwork by London- based artist Nicolas Deshayes.
Established in June 2011, Hotel Palenque is a contemporary art commission programme focused on producing and presenting new work by emerging artists across Europe. For each commission, Hotel Palenque invites one artist to create an artwork according to a simple set of production rules. Firstly the work must be eligible to be produced or reproduced to an A0 format (0.8 x 1.2m), and secondly all digital files and associated materials must be destroyed prior to the work being shown.
Since 2011, Hotel Palenque has collaborated with Tobias Madison at Pyramidd.biz, London, Mathis Altmann at Curtat Tunnel, Switzerland and Dmitri Galitzine at OUTPOST, Norwich. The fifth commission will be hosted by Cell Project Space with a new work by Hannah Perry.
Hotel Palenque commission programme is curated by Elise Lammer.
‘It seemed interesting to create an image that could be regarded as generic or ‘stock’ for a project that defines itself by its temporality and non reproducible qualities – stock photography existing precisely for the opposite reason, to be endlessly re-assigned to given meanings and contexts. I wanted to create an image that could indeed be ‘stock’ as much as a sensorial marker on the environmental make-up of the gallery space. One of the starting points for the work was the scene from James Cameron’s Titanic where Rose and Jack first make love, leaving traces of their limitless desire on the steam-covered windows of their carriage. The image I will be producing for Hotel Palenque depicts patterns wiped into a similar steam-veiled surface. A multi-million-pixel composition of water droplets subjected to the same erasable fate as glossy digital imagery. The pixels however become saturated with the mucusy wetness of the wallpaper pasted print like desire oozing from its pores.’
Nicolas Deshayes, January 2012
Nicolas Deshayes (1983, Nancy, France) lives and works in London. Educated at Chelsea College of Art and at the Royal College of Art (MA Sculpture, 2007-2009). Recent exhibitions include Vanille, with George Henry Longly, Galerie Chez Valentin, Paris (2012), PRECURSOR, curated by Shama Khanna, E:vent Gallery, London (2011), Rain, curated by Nicolas Deshayes, Cell Project Space, London (2011).
A show of works on paper:
Drawing, painting, print, collage
8th Dec - January 14th
Stephen Lloyd Smith
Petro, Egs and Lucas
Horfe and Elly Thomas
Mike Ballard, Emma Sheridan, Mat Moran, Daniel Sparkes, Ralph Macartney and Willem Weismann
Mike Ballard, Emma Sheridan and Mat Moran
Stephen Lloyd Smith
Lucas and Pinky
KEISTA MEDIS ANIMACIJOS IMONS (STRANGE TREE ANIMATION COMPANY)
An exhibition of artworks from a little known Lithuanian cartoon company
Nov 17th - Dec 3rd, 2011
Following its success in Copenhagen last summer, the Keista Medis show comes to London.
Formed in Perloja, Lithuania in 1978 and disbanded in 1981, the Strange Tree Animation Company existed in a theoretical period of cultural shift which was defined as the ‘Tilt Era’ by Nathan Daniel. During this turbulent but fruitful four years, Keista Medis managed to produce only one finished cartoon.
This exhibition features previously unseen animation cels, stills and press work which were feared lost until their recent discovery in a stately home in the former Soviet state. These loose and often quite random images are believed to be from a number of uncompleted animations that were being worked on at the time of the studio’s prompt closure. The cartoons were written and directed by Steponas Uemov and Juozapas Skupas and the works featured in this show are presumed to be by Ramunas Goldstein and Luidvikas Stogis, the chief animators who were responsible for visual creation, character design, backgrounds and colour testing.
The remnants that survive of the Strange Tree Animation Company provide an insight into the creative aims of the company’s artists. †Fragments of stories allude to lost narratives but little remains to provide direction on the intended ordering of these fragments. Consequently, the viewer of this collection is left to construct their own storyline. A small amount of information has survived in the form of an incomplete collection of private correspondence between Skupas and his secret German lover. In these letters Skupas clearly states that the cartoons were aimed at children and that they attempt to offer alternate views to the theological and political ideals that their creators were raised on. It appears that the cartoons were an attempt to subliminally broaden the mind of the next generation.
Keista Medis’ patron was Prince Otto Wilhelm who, according to rumour, was insane. His penchant for castle building and an insistence on traveling only in solid gold carriages put an extraordinary strain on the Prince’s finances which eventually led to financial ruin and the death of the Strange Tree Cartoon Company. The only completed work was a 30 second trailer which was shown, for the first and only time, to the Prince and a party of young revellers at Geierstein Castle, Perloja in 1981.
The works in this show have been kindly loaned by the Estate of Prince Otto Wilhelm and have been carefully compiled by Russell Maurice and Daniel Sparkes, enthusiasts and collectors of obscure animation art. This show approaches the cartoon with a modern eye and questions if it is time to review attitudes towards the art form. In the words of Augustus Parker: “Discussing the cartoon as lowbrow is no longer relevant. Now it is used as a simplification, a short hand description, a language that society needs now”.
This time the exhibition is shown in a larger space which allows for more (and previously unseen) pieces from the collection to be exhibited.
1st – 17th September 2011
Installation views and works in the show:
Murray O’ Grady
July 28th- August 26th
Edwin Burdis, Marten Daamgard, Horfe, Husk Mit Navn, Alec Kronacker, Rob Logan, Russell Maurice,
Mark Mulroney, Andro Semeiko, Ken Sortais, Daniel Sparkes, Willem Weismann
In 2007, MOMA held a show entitled Comic Abstraction, this term remains the closest definition of this new genre thus far. Asbestos Curtain contributes significantly to the mapping of a new phase in Comic Abstraction.
“In the movies there’s something called an insert shot. When an object is central to the action but can’t be seen clearly in the frame where the actors are at work: a full house at cards laid down on the table; when time is of the essence and we see the clock; when that call comes through and we see the phone. Objects that had been seen, but not noticed, become underlined, emphasized, as if they were suddenly punctuated with an exclamation point. Objects become actors; nouns become verbs. This kind of narrative storytelling, that of honing in on small, seemingly insignificant, parts of the scene, was borrowed by comics – often in the strip cartoon, frames appear where all we see are the corners of empty rooms, objects on tables, the edges of something barely perceived. If the narrative is removed from around these objects they should return to their status as mere things – yet their framing, their pulling out of the narrative retains the life they once had, but now without purpose. The isolation of the insert shot has been used by artists Christian Marclay and Morgan Fisher within film to impressive effect – drawing the viewers’ attention to the insignificant, the forgotten aspects of film production; the mastery of the second unit film crew.
In the comic these objects – these underlined, or bracketed objects are freed from the shackles of narrative to run amok: to move, to change, to mutate. They can run the length of a canvas, climb the stretch of a wall, or break out into three dimensions. Yet these things, these objects, as they grow and move escape from the boundary of the frame, they are always held together by the line. The line is always in movement, always tracking and sniffing out where it can be most effective. The static lines of the works in this show have ambitions of the movement of the animated cartoon – durable, shifting, unbreakable. But these lines don’t tell straightforward stories of slapstick violence or easy comedy; they strip things back to the barest of forms. An old door, a ladder, a pipette, a rotting dead dog, mushrooms and mattresses – abandoned, left to their own devices, tell us as much about ourselves as the human face. Grotesque elastic forms emerge as lines move outwards over lines, objects become anthropomorphic. Abstracted from the most figurative, and relentlessly narrative of forms, these works offer a new language of affect in which to read. Steeped in an uneasy nostalgia for the detailed, crisp graphic style of the animators of Hanna-Barbera, Peyo, or Hergè, blended with the contemporaneous grotesque underground comix of Gilbert Shelton and Robert Crumb these are difficult works to digest. Yet their message is simple – sometimes derived from the kind of condensed storytelling essential to the single image Graffiti character. In the late 1970s the American Surrealist Franklin Rosemont suggested that comics provided a ‘hieroglyphic poetry’ for the day – these artists strip down even that sense of legibility. Yet these works are surreal in the sense that they find the marvelous deep within everyday sources and bring them to the fore in all their distorted, mutated majesty.”
James Boaden 2011.
Installation views and works in the show:
Horfe and Edwin Burdis
Horfe, My guys are here for real, 2011
Horfe, No Face, 2011
Andro Semeiko, Le Grand Charmer & Marten Daamgard, Piped Out, 2011
Ken Sortais, Untitled 1-4, 2011 & Alec Kronacker – Expert Handling, 2010
Mark Mulroney, Untitled 1-3, 2011 & Husk Mit Navn – Untitled, 2009
Husk Mit Navn – Untitled, 2009
Robert Logan, At what cost (study), 2011
Russell Maurice, Pogrom, 2011
Andro Semeiko – ManWithWhite Gloves, 2010
Daniel Sparkes, Rolanding’s Regression Patch, 2011, Getting Sasha Sorted,2011
Willem Weismann, Portrait in 6 parts (parts 1 & 5), 2009
Other work (not included in the show) by the artists:
Marten Daamgard – PipedOut
Horfe – The Hope is Crushed Vampires!
Alec Kronacker – Calling the Manor
Robert Logan – Reservoir Dog
Russell Maurice – Hondo Descends
Mark Mulroney – Applejack 1, 2011
Ken Sortais – A Mort, 2011
Daniel Sparkes – Gary Busey’s Carpet Madame 1991, 2010
Willem Weismann – Study for Broken Man