Caroline Achaintre / Alex Crocker / Gary McDonald / Leah Rainey / Joel Tomlin / Katherine Tulloh
6-22 December 2013
Preview: Thurs 5 December 2013, 6-9pm
Gallery Open: Fri-Sun, 12-6pm
The prefix 'ur' : half a word, meaning the first version of something, original, seminal, the basis of something further ... as in ur-text, ur-myth, Ursonate.
The German word urwald means jungle and this exhibition will explore the fertile, exuberant growth, freedom of beginnings and raw power of evolving signs - that which is archetypal, prototypical, essential, nascent, emerging, evolving, unfixed, holding within a sense of beginnings, stirrings and intimations. Ur highlights a chain of ideas from early modernism's fascination with tribal art to more contemporary reworkings of the compulsive visions of so-called ‘outsider’ artists.
Is there a ghost original to all signs? The forgotten formula of script hidden within every culture, reappears, half-recognised in the work of contemporary artists. In stripping back, ideas can be distilled to make them strange and also familiar at the same time. A shape or scratched form echoes in the work of the Ur artists, striking a deep chord through a retinal memory – a graffiti tag may mask a word, morphing it into a form that might be the outline of an animal, a prehistoric form or ethnic mask. It speaks strongly with a meaning that is unclear, but we hear it.
The Ur artists explore the contemporary potential of the mythic - the unknown, half-remembered world (if there is one) and investigate the ability to invent a language based on misconception and misremembering by collecting and collaging fragments and pieces of signs and histories.
Caroline Achaintre's sculptures display a disconcerting dichotomy between sex mask and tribal artefact, humorously unpacking the politics of display and ethnography, while deeply involved with their own materiality.
Alex Crocker paints exuberant calligraphic paintings whose broad strokes confront the viewer with vigour and strangeness, blurring the line between abstraction and figuration.
Gary McDonald makes paintings that are like misremembered interiors or forms seen on the verge of sleep. They confront and rebuff understanding - intensely painterly, they conjure a secret world, dissembling the edges of forms.
Leah Rainey's fragments of observations become, through the contrast between thick impasto and scratches in the paint surface, a metaphor for the flickerings of memory.
Joel Tomlin's small sculpture and paintings resemble museum objects from an unknown, legendary world with a remarkable sparse beauty.
Katherine Tulloh’s work depicts a strange revelatory state through the confrontation of resonant symbols and intense colour, forming a hieroglyphic code of interacting images.
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