AboutBritish duo Paul Teigh and Martin Russell have been producing sculpture, video and photographic works collaboratively since 2002. Combining an understanding of the history of European decorative arts with highly developed technical skills and a real interest in materials, their work has consistently questioned contemporary art's internal dynamics, modes of reception and mediation and brought disparate influences to fruition in sculpture. The result is an often humorous conjunction of high art and disposable contemporary kitsch, which at turns is beautiful, enigmatic, visually enthralling and participatory.
Graduating from the MFA at Goldsmith's in 2008, Teigh and Russell have enjoyed significant recent exposure through solo projects like Beton Brut (Concrete, Hayward Gallery, London April 2009), Grisaille Daze (T1+2 Artspace, London, March 2008) and Sell Out (Fulham Palace, London, March 2007) and their curatorial project Without You It's Nothing (Deptford X, 2008).
Their new exhibition Beyond the Plenum develops lines of enquiry across three new projects, and sees the beginning of a new and hybrid visual grammar all of their own.
Building on a body of work, which in the past has combined the dissonant charms of rococo with those of a cardboard point-of-sale display stand, their new sculpture, Modern Style (2010), recreates the Belle Epoche elegance of early modernism. Consciously using the utilitarian materials of window frame re-construction, Meranti (a poor man's Mahogany) is crafted with the assumed skills of fine art production in an artist's studio, allowing the artists to claim the âright' to produce dissonant conjunctions of style, material and application. In this way Modern Style becomes a framing device allowing the artists to re-make an idea from the past, injecting into it their understanding of the present.
In a new photographic series Stile Liberty (2010) Teigh and Russell have assembled a variety of âblue collar' uses of early modern typography in the contemporary cityscape to further champion their commitment to a visual culture, which refuses to privilege fine art over utility.
Indexing shop signage in the vicinity of the artists' studio, Stile Liberty is a forensic examination of appropriated of art nouveau, and the collision between its perceived elegance and its eventual resting place amongst London's myriad storefronts. Motivated by an anthropological urge to collect utilitarian impressions and to pose searching questions about their place in the hierarchy of cultural value, the series reinforces the egalitarian flatness of forms and concepts in Teigh and Russell's own sculptural work.
Elevating the ceiling tile from anonymity, a new video work Beyond the Plenum (2010) replays scenes from Hollywood films, in which the protagonist by breaking into a space outside the frame of the image in this case the plenum, a chamber of space above a floating ceiling destroys the illusion of the cinematic âfifth wall'. In Beyond the Plenum the ceiling tile becomes a âportal' to a world of rebellious possibility exemplified by Judd Nelson's daring escape from a high school detention through a suspended ceiling in the seminal 1980s film The Breakfast Club.
Focused on the non-spaces and non-objects which are arranged to be an overlooked part of our lives, Teigh and Russell are asking us to be aware of the designs and materials around us and to take an interest in the sources and references which make up of the hybrid landscape of our cities and creative cultures.