One of the best known composers of the Romantic period, Brahms was an ardent believer in „absolute music”. His compositions explore the essence and harmony of the music, letting it expand in its entirety, rather than following an explicit narrative or representation. In dialogue with this concept, the exhibition seeks to speak primarily to form and color within the traditions of abstract painting and modern sculpture through the practices of contemporary artists Ince-Mitchell and Christie.
Ince-Mitchell’s large -scale Action Black paintings bring a dimension of tactility to visual abstraction through applying an additional layer of glossy, black acrylic to his bright yellow and red bases, spreading across the canvas in a deliberately messy, highly bodily and seductive manner. The visible rips, wrinkles and movement of the thick black paint channel the dynamism and temporality of the physical making of the work and its environment, or which Ince-Mitchell refers to as the “lived experience of the Black”, into the Now and the space of the gallery.
Christie’s sculptures play with references from both Dadaism and Minimalism, working with ready-mades and materials found on the streets of London, such as snooker balls and scaffolding, as an ironic take on the ambiguous nature of authorship and the fetishized art object, while maintaining a focus on Form through meticulous craft, sensuous carving and a smooth, glossy finish.
In the way the bodies, instruments and emotions of the musicians revive, re-interpret and re-contextualize Brahms’ piece within the exclusive spatial and temporal present, the practices of Ince-Mitchell and Christie also infuse robust art historical traditions with their own unique vocabularies, experiences and archives, making them live in the Now. For both artists, the context of London where they were born and have been creating is incorporated into their work in an immediate and intimate way, revealing underlying narratives that stretch deeply and widely into their respective realities. Thus, much like Brahms’s Sextet No. 2 in G Major as performed within the context of UNIT 31 and “The Absolute Now”, their works suggest that even though something might appear to exist merely as a formal absolute, it is always embedded within the story and experience brought to it in its present.
Written and curated by Sonja Teszler
Cedric Christie was born in London in 1962, where he continues to live and work. His practice explores a broad range of cultural and art historical references, often using humour and irony as subtle vehicles of communication.
Christie incorporates and manipulates everyday objects such as snooker balls, scaffolding, and even cars to create sculptures that are meticulously and skilfully made. They become both a critical appraisal of modernism as well as a playful exploration of form and meaning.
Cedric Christie has exhibited widely in the UK and internationally and has curated a number of large-scale group exhibitions including Something I don't do and The Things of Life at Flowers Gallery. His work is held in the private collections of Anita Zabludowicz, Unilever and Derwent Valley Holdings among others.
Jerome Ince-Mitchell Artist Statement:
My practice uses play to explore concepts around painting, otherness, power, structuralism and blackness. I enjoy playing with traditional and non traditional mediums of expression, often working on several projects simultaneously that can connect, overlap and disconnect at multiple points as I explore new subjectivities. This multilayered concurrent way of working feels natural to me, and I have come to think of it as a metaphor, not only for the multifaceted interests and sources of information that inform my thinking, but a representation of the layered and interconnected culture I live in.
Born and raised in London in 1991 to a Grenadian family I am beginning to focus on the significance of the language of inner city London. Diasporic and belonging to a wider transatlantic Afro community, there is a living cultural within the language that not only by passes traditional cultural and class boundaries in contemporary Britain but has become an export for the world to engage with. This leads me believe that we are experiencing a significant moment in British culture that I too, am a part of.
Sonja Teszler is a freelance curator, writer and musician based between London and Budapest. She finished her MA in Contemporary Art at the Sotheby’s Institute London, currently works at the Drawing Room and Bosse&Baum gallery and is the resident curator and co-director of non-profit art space, Wells Projects.
She is working on a collaborative project with UNIT 31 curating exhibitions merging contemporary art and Chamber Music. She released her first album with “Dylan and Sonja” in 2018, played various venues across New York and is currently working on a solo EP.
1st Violin - Maja Harvat
2nd Violin - Anna Molnar
1st Viola - Hannah Gardiner
2nd Viola - Helena Bushman
1st Cello - Wallis Power
2nd Cello - Raffy Bushman