Including works by Albert, Anna Barriball, Anthony Green, Barrington, Chantal Joffe, Dan Duggan, David Musgrave, David Beales, Ewan Gibbs, Matthew, Paul Noble, Peter White, Raymond, Sam Sakya.
‘Behold Continues to Retreat’ is an exhibition curated by Mark Titchner that combines artworks depicting uninhabited rooms, buildings and landscapes with a series of portraits and works that explore the representation of the face. These distinct groups of works are presented in opposition to each other each occupying half of the gallery space. Portraits staring into landscapes and landscapes absorbing their gaze. The eye’s migration and back again. Bringing together Bethlem Gallery artists, renowned contemporary artists and works from the Bethlem Museum art collection the exhibition will explore the experience of creating, observing and being observed.
The gallery invited artist Mark Titchner to guest curate this exhibition, to bring together artists from different backgrounds and experiences to explore common creative ground and bring different communities of artists together on an equal footing.
Mark explains “In developing the idea for this exhibition I was struck by a description of the work of Bethlem artist Albert. Albert, whose work is included in the exhibition, produces stark, geometric pencil drawings which depict uninhabited spaces and architecture. One interpretation of these works would be that they depict threatening, institutional spaces but instead the artist’s intention was to depict spaces within which he felt comfortable and to bring them to life.”
These spaces are empty in order to invite us in to them.
Another Bethlem artist Dan Duggan, again included in the exhibition and working with pencil, produces heavily rendered portraits that repeatedly depict the same rudimentary face. These faces appear in different stages of construction or disintegration perhaps missing a mouth or the crown of the head but always with glaring eyes fixing the viewer. These works do propose an interesting question. How does one portrait stare more than another?
If Albert’s landscapes long to be filled what do these eyes invite? Do they ask us to empathise or do they confront us? Do they beckon us in or warn us away?
It is this projection of the artist or the viewer into an imagined space or physiognomy that is the crux of this exhibition.
Of what is projected and of what is left behind. What response does an empty landscape elicit in the viewer that is different from the experience offered by a depiction of a face? Do we respond specifically to individual works or do we follow predetermined patterns that these genres demand. Does a landscape demand a pair of eyes upon it?
“So with this in mind, my proposition for this exhibition was that each empty landscape should be offered the unblinking gaze of a portrait and in turn each portrait should be provided a world for those eyes to fill.
“Or : If an artworks nature resides in its completion by a notional gaze or space what happens when that notional gaze or space is offered by another artwork that in turn demands a notional gaze or space to complete it?” Says Mark.
Gallery Director Beth Elliott says “Mark has been supporting and promoting the arts at Bethlem for several years. He has had a long-term interest in the historic collections and holds our contemporary artists in high regard. It’s been a pleasure working with him on this project.”
The Bethlem Gallery is situated on the grounds of The Bethlem Royal Hospital, the oldest psychiatric hospital in the world still functioning today. The small artist-led team that runs the gallery works with individuals to develop their practice and professional opportunities, by making time, space, resources and support available. Collectively we strive to develop the careers, experience and expertise of the gallery artists by creating opportunities for professional development during a person’s time in hospital and beyond. Our successful artist- in-residence projects also work with patients and staff on site to improve the experience of the hospital environment. The gallery works with a broad range of artists and art practices. It provides a space for high-quality artwork and a platform for experimentation, collaboration and skills exchange.
The exhibition will provide the setting for this year’s Creativity and Wellbeing Week, hosted by London Arts in Health Forum. On the 6th June there will be a round table discussion with Mark, Iain Sinclair and Bethlem Gallery staff and artists. Booking available via the Creativity and Wellbeing website.