In November 2004 Gimpel Fils held the inaugural exhibition of its new contemporary art project space at 30 Davies Street. Downstairs provides a dedicated exhibition space for emerging artists and hosts one-off projects by established artists. This exhibition casts an eye over the seventeen exhibitions held Downstairs and brings together a selection of wall based and sculptural work. Reviewing the Downstairs exhibition programme enables us to take a second look at the work of some of the artists who have exhibited, and find new links and associations between them.
The second exhibition Downstairs was Dylan Stones life-size watercolour painting of his parent's bookcase. Reproducing the spine of each book in intricate detail, Stone documented a personal library that spoke of individual interests and fascinations. The work included in this exhibition, depicting records and videos, extends Stones premise that personal identity is expressed through our possessions.
Gedi Sibonys exhibition Some Places Exist was held in September 2005. His work springs from a desire to create more space between and around things rather than create sculptural works that fill space. Questioning the nature and form of contemporary sculpture and the environments in which it is seen, Sibonys work initially appears ephemeral and tentative but is surprisingly evocative.
Travelling to Rothera, the British research station in Antarctica, Layla Curtis recorded her journey using a personal GPS tracking device. The satellite tracking system created a continuous line drawing charting her passage to and from Antarctica. Curtis exhibition Downstairs in May 2006 comprised excerpts from her GPS drawing, which combined geometric and abstract qualities. The red lines stretching across empty space chart Curtis movements creating personal memory maps.
Working from eighteenth century paintings by George Stubbs and JMW Turner amongst others, Michelle Dovey gives the spaces and details often overlooked in art a prominent position. Bringing the background into the foreground, Michelle Dovey's paintings are infused with excitement over how a detail, or an innocent backdrop, might become the fulcrum of an image. Dovey is successful in redirecting our attention to the unnoticed.
In looking for the perfect vista, Hannah Brown identifies key components of a classic landscape image: fields, hills, trees, hedgerows. The painted surfaces of Hannah Browns work, combined with sculptural objects, point to the human construction of our environments. Her work highlights the historic division between town and country that has enabled a situation in which the truth of the landscape is jettisoned for a romantic version of it.
Doug Fishbone recycles the language of the mass media in order to critique some of the more unseemly aspects of life in the modern age. Appropriating photographic and digital imagery from the internet, he constructs witty and occasionally shocking film narratives from apparently unrelated material, questioning the way the mind processes controversial visual images and concepts. His work exhibited Downstairs in October 2006, demonstrated a particular interest in the operation of jokes as commodified pieces of language and thought.
Belfast seems a familiar city: images of it have been in over-circulation during the troubles. John Duncan has been making photographic work in Belfast over the last decade as the city has been affected by the Peace Process, the ceasefires, the influx of capital investment and as it has slipped off the front pages. His images depict Belfast as it is dragged into the contemporary world, while remaining conscious of it as a place that resists standardisation and normalisation.
Jock Mooneys hand crafted small-scale sculptural objects exhibited in February 2007 have been discussed in terms of the carnavalesque: folly, excess and the mocking of established norms and codes of behaviour. Challenging the distinctions between high, low and popular forms of visual material, Mooney works as a satirist, commenting on the folly of contemporary society. He utilises humour as a subversive tool that can be understood as defying a world of gloss and sheen.
The Downstairs programme demonstrates Gimpel Fils commitment to contemporary art and we are proud to announce that 2008 will see the project space continue to support emerging artists. Forthcoming exhibitions include paintings by recent graduate Arabella Hope, sound installation by Clare Gasson, etched photographs by Lee Edwards and photographic investigations into parapsychology by Susan Macwilliam.