Rick Copsey, Tom Ireland, Lee Machell: An Ocean of Storms3. May - 31. May 14 / ended Untitled Gallery
An Ocean of Storms brings together new and recent works by Rick Copsey, Tom Ireland and Lee Machell, all of whom are represented by Untitled Gallery.
Rick Copsey unites his past practice as a painter with his current photographic practice to create works that circumvent the inherent “truth” of the camera as an apparatus that documents reality. Copsey’s Paintscape works are illusive. What appears to be a snapshot of a tumultuous ocean or a nascent storm is a “hyperreality”, that is, “a real without origin or reality” [Baudrillard, Simulacra and Simulation (1981)] as the image does not depict a scene with a real existence. In the Paintscape series Copsey takes the substance of paint as his source material. His use of a macro lens to photograph the microscopic detail within a droplet of wet oil paint around 3 mm in diameter serves to problematize what comprises aesthetic surface as the apparent verisimilitude of each image questions what constitutes reality as each image exists without an external referent.
Tom Ireland’s practice explores the relationship between Modernist Art and Design practices and the western space programme of the mid-to-late 20th Century as proponents of parallel aesthetic and ideological values. Central to Ireland’s practice is the notion of space; whether the infinite expanse of the Universe or the gallery, it is often empty until human contact creates context, interaction, and narrative.
Ireland’s practice is reductive and is often characterised by slight intervention in source materials and with greater emphasis placed on modest gestures devised to unlock new possibilities within objects and images such as and you have felt the horizon haven't you? (2014), a pair of Levi’s 501 jeans stonewashed with meteorites and An Ocean of Storms (2013 – Ongoing), a phrase derived from the Latin name given to the Apollo 12 moon landing site re-purposed as the title for this group exhibition. Go Forth (but it could be a Levi's advert) (2014) is derived from a photograph that captures two denim wearing NASA astronauts as they participate in geology training in the deserts of southern California in preparation for their trip to the lunar surface.
Lee Machell’s output involves the appropriation of commonplace objects within a practice that is primarily sculptural. In works such as Handle (2012), a sculpture in which two paint tubs’ handles interlock in order to create a loop that sits on the gallery floor, one handle is concave, and therefore “female”, and one is convex, and therefore “male”. Machell’s series of “Match Installations” are interventions in gallery spaces in which he uses matches to create an ephemeral line within the space, and includes site-specific works at Red Gallery [(2009) Hull], Project Space Leeds [(2011) Leeds], Carter Presents [(2013) London], and most recently Platform A [(2013) Middlesbrough] and Supercollider | Contemporary Art Projects [(2013) Blackpool]. This anarchic act creates a transient monument to an unpredictable process within each space. Permanent iterations of this process include “Match Drawings” on paper such as Cap #2 (2013) and Reel #5 (2014) in which Machell places matches around selected objects such as an oil paint tube’s cap or a reel-to-reel tape. Once lit, a subsequent burst of sparks results in a burnt negative imprint of the object on cartridge paper.
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