27 Sep 2019 – 2 Nov 2019

Regular hours

12:00 – 18:00
12:00 – 18:00
12:00 – 18:00
12:00 – 18:00

Save Event: Gubbinal5

I've seen this1

People who have saved this event:


Project Native Informant

England, United Kingdom


Travel Information

  • Bond Street, Oxford Circus
Directions via Google Maps Directions via Citymapper
Event map

Adam Gordon | Alan Miller | Andrew Stahl | Clementine Bruno | Derek Jarman | Jennifer Packer | Marley Freeman | Sean Steadman | Sebastian Jefford | Stanislava Kovalcikova | Tenant of Culture | Vincent Fecteau


That strange flower, the sun,
Is just what you say.
Have it your way.

The world is ugly,
And the people are sad.

That tuft of jungle feathers,
That animal eye,
Is just what you say.

That savage of fire,
That seed,
Have it your way.

The world is ugly,
And the people are sad

-- Wallace Stevens, 'Gubbinal' in Harmonium, 1923

GUBBINAL considers two opposing stances. The cosmic, foundational and mysterious at loggerheads with lassitude and retreat. Wallace Stevens, who favours a Heraclitus-type balance in his work, is drawing out the playing field produced by the imagination’s friction with abnegation.

Stevens recognises the redemptive power of the imagination. He presents it as a portal of hyper-connectivity and openness, one that dissolves the bondage of nihilism and scientism. In many ways GUBBINAL is making a case for arts sceptical aptitude, a re-evaluation of the common sense thinking which inhibits the world from becoming radically mixed up and groundless. Stevens’ ‘strange flower the sun’ and ‘animal eye’ oppose a worldview calcified for the sake of utility and taxonomy. His imagery is mysterious, scalable and open.

According to Socrates, ‘wonder is the feeling of the philosopher, and philosophy begins in wonder'. Stevens poetry aligns with Socrates; it possesses humility through reflection on the qualitative aspects of experience. This is concurrent with painting, which Stevens loved, particularly Klee and Cézanne. Painting manifests rather than argues, what Francis Bacon liked to call ‘fact’.

All of the exhibited artists in their different ways relate to this spirit of inquiry, and their ability to produce worlds and at the same time give the feeling of interiority. Sebastian Jefford’s bulbous foam skins, puckered and clipped together on volumetric supports, are like artefacts from the nanoscale, blown up for inspection. Jennifer Packer’s phantasms, faces agog, dissolve into spandrels and roots. All the works are uniquely chimerical, slippery and ponderous, and focus on the imagination.


Have you been to this event? Share your insights and give it a review below.