Araeen and Fillingham take very particular and sensitive approaches to how an audience encounters material, colour, space, sculpture, repetition, modularity and unit structuring. Their sculptures also contain narratives embedded in the work, which are humanist and political in nature, that can be perceived through their abstract forms.
The placement of works in relation to each other and to the architecture of Chelsea Space is modernist and formalist in approach. Rather than presenting a context or history that overshadows the artwork itself, Chelsea Space’s intention is to offer the opportunity for Araeen and Fillingham to situate their work and allow it to have what Araeen describes as “the dignity of objecthood”.
In a discussion between Fillingham and Araeen in July 2018, they talked of a ‘Chelsea Space approach’ to exhibition projects, allowing artists to reveal their processes, ideas and work and how the particular architecture of Chelsea Space has presence in this curatorial process. From this they concluded that the title of the exhibition should be simply Rasheed Araeen, Peter Fillingham and Chelsea Space implying a spirit of collaboration, inclusion, equality and openness. Both artists believe in collective endeavour in their practice, whether in relation to audience participation in an exhibition or event, or between artists, technicians, writers, curators and other participants in the process of making artworks and exhibitions.
For each exhibition at Chelsea Space a Reading Room, made in conjunction with the students of MA Curating and Collections, is presented in the entrance gallery. For this show Rasheed Araeen has made a sculptural table for Chelsea Space to present an interactive installation of his publications in line with the Reading Rooms he has presented, for example, at ZKM (Karlsruhle); Documenta 14 (Kassel), and Rasheed Araeen: A Retrospective at Van Abbemuseum (Eindhoven) and MAMCO (Geneva).
Peter Fillingham’s work was previously exhibited at Chelsea Space in 2011 in the exhibition Ideal Home and he was instrumental in the realisation our 2014 exhibition Almost Bliss: Notes on Derek Jarman’s Blue. Chelsea Space included publications and multiples of Rasheed Araeen’s work, including The Golden Verses, Black Phoenix, Third Text and Making Myself Visible in our 2015 exhibition Re-Recordings concerning Chelsea College of Arts’ African-Caribbean, Asian & African Art in Britain Archive established by former Librarian, Liz Ward.
Concurrently with the Chelsea Space exhibition, Rasheed Araeen: A Retrospective will be at BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead and will continue until 27 January 2019.
Special thanks to Grosvenor Gallery, London; Aicon Gallery, New York; Rossi Rossi, Hong Kong.