Three hundred and sixty one

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Going Out of Business

2014 by Mel Bochner
Simon Lee Gallery until 14 November

The title of Bochner’s exhibition – and the title of this work – is particularly poignant in light of recent events; going out of business has been all too real for many people and the phrase is suitably loaded. The power of a turn of phrase is what Bochner manages to visualise in his paintings; he harnesses the associations text has the power to summon and allows them to feed his works. Indeed, the letters themselves are fed with paint – sometimes up to a pound per letter – before being printed, pressed onto their opulent velvet. As a result each letter is different, the thick paint blotting and fading unpredictably, different colours invading one another; they appear almost as personalities. The dependency on process, on the thick and expressive nature of paint, furthers the agency of these words. Each have come through something and reacted – green GOING is fading appropriately into the background; blue LOST is almost missing; red EVERYTHING is solid colour in every letter. The intimacy we feel with these charged words is carried in the sensuous texture of velvet, to which the paint clings instead of canvas. Going Out of Business is jarring – like the idea itself – in its clashing of colours; lurid tones are paired against each other – off-white gleams on purple, a lightly putrid yellow on a sickly sweet peach. Bochner’s other works are just as sensitive to their textual subject – Chuckle is bright colours, shining humorously on black, while Silence is a quiet blurring of greys and soft pastels. Bochner’s painting have a lot to say, and not just because they’re full of words.

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Three hundred and sixty

360

Bags Waiting, Night

2014 by Mairead O’hEocha
mother’s tankstation, Dublin (seen at Frieze London 2014)

mother’s tankstation – near the Guinness factory in Dublin – had a great stand at Frieze London 2014. Centred by Ara Dymond’s surrealist looking sculptures – organic-like forms that hang angularly, they are in fact ‘hoodies’ dipped in resin – the walls were lined with the paintings of Mairead O’hEocha, inviting our eyes into her mysterious and painterly way of seeing. O’hEocha appears to translate reality through the process of painting, casting objects or shapes with an angular stroke of a brush. They are not impressionistic flutterings but geometric interpretations, where something as collapsable as a soft bag is transformed into a pile of angular shapes. This unfolding of the world in shape gives a great sense of depth and perspective to O’hEocha’s paintings that, though small in size, hold our gaze. Though sharply angled O’hEocha’s paintings are far from strictly graphic, as her lines are interspersed with colour so textured we see the melting of tones through the ripple of hairs on the brush. This pattern of block colour and textured brush strokes gives the painting itself a changing surface, with subjects appearing in a melody of emphasis. In Bags Waiting, Night the bags appear waiting in a line, their shadows cast in colourful shapes that creep across the floor. A blur of lights in the dark is caught in the mustard yellow stroke across the enveloping black of background; a scattering of marbled brush strokes its reflections caught in the night. The angle of the little bird is triumphant; perched and raising its breast, its presence is touching in O’hEocha’s otherwise industrial – perhaps edging on bleak – scene. O’hEocha’s quiet palette of soft pastel colours gives her painting an integrity – a subtly muted and thoughtful portrayal of the world.

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Three hundred and fifty nine

359

My City – part 2 ‘Heterotopia’

2014 by Yunsun Jung
Exhibiting with Collyer Bristow Student Award & Exhibition until 28 January 2015

Jung’s series ‘My City’ uses cardboard to constructs explosive and energetic installations, a sharp twist on the usual masses of the stuff we see spilling out of our recycling bins. Of course the material is deliberate, copious amounts of cardboard represents our endless appetite for things; it is the packaging of our material world. In its cycle of use, re-use and recycling, Jung builds her city from a body that, like the city itself, is constantly being reborn. Jung’s cardboard is far from the crumpled on the recycling pile, but beautifully cut and manipulated into a series of perfect shapes. Their careful execution adds to their poignancy – these crisp edges and smooth surfaces could be crushed. Indeed, they take the shape of all that is fleeting as Jung moves from place to place, from city to city. These are the shapes that amass our lives through each metropolis: some are recognisable – a plane, a humorous spider; some are not, as giant zig-zags and curves erupt with unkempt and questioning energy. The word ‘Sainsbury’s’ slides pathetically along the floor, defeated by the boxes that package its consumer goods. Colour intermittently distracts from the overwhelming and ironically earthy brown in seemingly random and non-sensical objects; a large jagged cardboard arm leads to a sad, abandoned pile of clothes. Jung’s installation is powerful because it manages to express a frustration we all feel, an explosion of stuff and rubbish at living in an ever-expanding world.

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Three hundred and fifty eight

358

Alchemy

2014 by David A Pinegar
A Wall of Colour; 60 Threadneedle Street Space until 15 January ’15

A Wall of Colour is Pinegar’s first series of fine art photographs. A commercial photographer for 30 years, these new images allow him to explore and exploit the elements behind the success of his previous pictures, honing in on light, texture and colour. Confronted by these incredible prints (many are as wide as 3 metres), we are consumed by the intensity, the clarity, of these components. Magnifying his subject through a new process – Pinegar’s pictures are of everyday objects – he shows us a new way of seeing, of interpreting the world. Alchemy is all about the decadent colours of red, purple and gold; deep and luxurious, each colour spreads across the composition with agency. Melting to black darkly, or ignited with the brilliance of light, these colours create a tension that gives the image movement, a pulse, that sees it contort before us. Shapes are created in the varying textures, a superficial gleam of gold to a mottled and blurred crimson. We watch each shape form as an extension of our own imagination – thoughts or figures provoked, then cast in a play of colour and changing surface. Alchemy is a fitting title; the lure of extracting gold, as was the process in medieval times, is epitomised in this seductive image, where the glittering surface appears just beyond reach.

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Three hundred and fifty seven

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Souterrain (entrance detail)

2012 by Lee Bul
LEE BUL, Mudam Luxembourg 2013-14; Diluvium @ Korean Cultural Centre UK now open until 1 Nov ’14

Born into the military dictatorship of South Korea, Lee Bul’s art is understandably reactive. Ikon Gallery is presenting her first UK solo exhibition, with an accompanying installation at the Korean Cultural Centre in London (KCCUK). Bul’s work is caught between a push-pull of wanting to look forward, but tainted with the history of what she has had to leave behind. This preoccupation is visualised in her most recent work with the inviting gleam of reflective surface; futuristic and glitteringly seductive, yet deliberately fragmented, these shards reflect our troubled world back at us. Diluvium, in Bul’s own words is her “monster installation”, taking over KCCUK’s windowed space that looks over Northumberland Avenue. The walls and floor are covered in a mirror-effect vinyl that, unlike the crystal clarity of a mirror, is a mottled silver blur; encompassing and absorbing, we are never quite sure where each surface begins or ends. The floor itself rises and falls at various angles, mounting upwards in terrific shapes that give the installation a performative energy; it appears to grow and break free – cyborg-like, monster-like – before us. Highly reflective silver tape is then drawn between surfaces, multiple lines that fragment the space, as well as giving the ‘monster’s’ immense energy a visual dynamism. The tape’s sharp edge, intermittently ripped to create thinner, more deadly and jagged razors, contrasts to the softly textured silver of the walls; we are presented with two juxtaposing sides of reflection. Diluvium, a term used to describe superficial deposits formed by catastrophic flood-like actions of water, puts a poignant twist on the energy that pulses through these lines. The side-effects of action must be accounted for; no matter how seemingly beautiful, a shard of glass has a sharp edge.

Lee Bul’s solo exhibition at Ikon Gallery, Birmingham is open until 9 November ’14.

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Three hundred and fifty six

356

La Princesa Ometepetl en su Jardin

c1980 by Abel Vargas
Instituto Nicaraguense de Cultura, Convento San Francisco, Granada, Nicaragua

Hanging on the cool stone walls of the sixteenth-century Convento San Francisco are a collection of Nicaraguan painters. The style of these artists unites them – all are naive in approach; colour is bold, lines are simple, creating a quiet and immediately accessible beauty to each of the works – no matter what the subject matter. When some of the paintings show the brutality of civil war or the ravaging of villages –  such as Amilcar Mendieta’s La Batalla de San Jacinto, 1988 – this naive approach is made all the more poignant, flat and two-dimensional blood seeping in puddles from Lowry-like matchstick men. Such violence, much of which is in living memory, is perhaps made easier to remember – or indeed taken possession of – in a style which is akin to the primitive painters of the country’s history. It is no surprise then that much of the other work by this group of painters is inspired by pre-Columbian legends, indigenous village life and mythological Nicaraguan figures. La Princesa Ometepetl en su Jardin is such a painting, showing the Princess of the island Ometepe ‘in the garden’. Vargas was born on the island of Ometepe – a mystical place even without the mythology, it is formed of two dramatic volcanoes and sits on Lago de Nicaragua – a lake so big that Spanish invaders thought they were setting out to sea when they first came across its shores. The painting shows the outline of the island’s distant volcanoes, their bright green tops, lush with jungle, misty in pillows of violet clouds. The jungle in the foreground appears shining and plump, abundant in leaves and lusciously healthy, with each detail picked out brightly. It is the almost childlike style of Vargas that lets nature appear so cheerfully; every leaf striving upwards, holding the jungle’s animals – the parrot, humming bird and tropical frog – still before us. The Princess herself appears as beautifully arranged as the green that surrounds her; serene in posture and composure, she holds out a red fruit, symbolising perhaps the passion, blood and love of her country. So perfectly undisturbed, Vargas’s garden is fanciful, yet not untrue; like so many Latin American artists and novelists, Vargas combines reality with mysticism to show another way.

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postcardwall on holiday

337

Taking a break in Central America, postcardwall’s weekly postcards will be few and far between for a while.

Follow on twitter @postcardwall_ for Central American art updates and watch this space for postcards from across the ocean come September…

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