EVERYTHINGS WRONG, AINT NOTHING RIGHT!
Curated by Jonathan Lux.
June 20th - July 4th (2019)
Can we talk about the weather? It’d beenraining most of this week, lightly I admit, but it’s been constant and as a consequence it’s chilly when it shouldn’t be and the sky above is an unfriendly shade of grey, soft and luminescent. Ultimately the rain and the chill matter less than the growing awareness I feel knowing that our modest allotment of summer is slowly being siphoned off. Nature acting like a pick-pocket. When I arrive at Paige Perkins’ studio the weather has improved. We have some coffee together and sift through piles of canvases. There is a lot of work to consider. The walls are mostly covered and every stretcher stacked along the perimeter conceals one or two more behind it. Strange animals pieced together from cotton scraps and chicken-wire silently observe us from a nearby work bench. I’ve known Paige for a while and she was the first person I asked to participate. I want to see her molten dreamscapes of maidens and animals, with their knowing stares playing alongside my technicolour domestic fantasies of sideways glances and wayward thoughts. The variables of a studio visit, of not knowing what is waiting for you is akin to browsing the aisles in a second-hand bookstore. Often the thing you leave with is not what you came for. Discovery always trumps planning. It begins to come together. I want to know what happens when we introduce Sophie Mackfall’s delicateconstructions into the group. Her work exudes a colour-field minimalism but because she works on a dizzying variety of materials ranging from large sheets of paper to glass, cut into gentle curves, I can’t predict what she’ll bring. And I don’t much want too. My wife has a small piece of Sophie’s in our home and it hangs from a clear nylon string against the white wall above our couch. Laying on my back it’s all I can look at. It hardly ever moves, but its slender bent lines of wicker and pigment shift and distort depending on where you’re sitting and as it tenderly brushes against the wall, it gives off the most entertaining shadow, if such a thing makes sense.
I’m anxious to see what sort of dialogue will happen when Lucy Stein’s aggressive and sly, painterly provocations are included in the mix. I’ve long admired the way she moves paint (with reckless abandon) and the historical/political content often found in her work feels very raw and relevant. She lives quite far away now, and we exchange many messages and sort through an array of options. I agree with the sentiment that it’s better to be told too little than too much, and It’s from that vantage point from which I will continue to proceed for the reminder of the curation. Studio visits with Andi Magenheimer are arranged just in the nick of time. She’s moving to a bigger space, so it’s chance to see her work unfettered by the unboxing and the jumble that will accompany the move. Stacks of modestly scaled canvases line the perimeter of her room. Works in progress on the wall. Her pictures retain a satiny sheen which gives the illusion that they were just finished that morning. There’s little revision, no second guessing. From sketch to canvas, conceived, made, done. I’ll have to learn that trick someday. The works are seeded with allegory and occasionally melancholy. Incandescent cowgirls can be found roaming a shifting terrain of sloping edges and long shadows. Upon closer inspection, sinister elements can appear toothless, while playful elements can turn suddenly and threateningly. She can make dark comedy seem natural and effortless. Looking over the final outcome, there is a lot to take in. There are formalist puzzles to deconstruct and personal narratives to unpack. Thinking about the contrast and variety of approaches I’m reminded of how grateful I feel that we share this space together. It’s a joy to appreciate the things they can do that I cannot. Like the Way Kathryn Maple combines a gypsy-like wanderlust and an admiration for the natural world, and develops that into a dense and fractured language of compressed dashes and clustered dabs. The ebb and flow of the marks, pop and solidify, racially effecting the viewer’s experience as you lean forward or take a step back. The works in the exhibition represent the variety of the present, a snapshot of a moment. A fragment of a community of friends, acquaintances, and distant colleagues, working independently but with a collective tenacity. Within these works I feel a will that continuously reasserts itself. The works push back against adversity. They push back against doubt. They put a finger in the eye of a world which is often ambivalent and on occasion actively hostile and working to counter purposes. -Jonathan Lux Guest Curator
Jonathan Lux was invited by studio holder Jack Towndrow.
Painting Programme is co-ordinated by Assembly House studio holders.