The photographs, works on paper and paintings in the exhibition often strike a balance between a legible image and an abstraction, conjuring a set of conversations between order and organic form.
John Riddy’s photographic practice often emerges from his travels to distant locales, but he is equally adept at capturing the texture of London’s urban corners. London (King’s Cross), 2021, 2021 depicts a brick wall mottled by time. Stained by seepage and erosion, forces of nature have slowly permeated the grid of bricks with organic forms. A brick wall is also the starting point for Anna Barriball’s Wall, 2021, but the artist created this graphite-on-paper drawing in the more intimate environment of her studio. Built up over many hours of careful application of graphite, the layers of grey shimmer subtly, creating at once an illusion of a brick wall, conjured from thin paper, and a monochrome, meditative object. Tacita Dean’s Why cloud, 2016 is at once a study of natural forms and an abstraction, bringing together two modes in the history of abstract art: the geometric and the organic. Similarly, Barriball’s Smoke Studies, 2018 use the modernist grid as an organising principle, overlaying the structure (derived in this case from a window grille) with the uncontrollable forms of smoke. Massimo Bartolini’s 100 Hours, 2013, a rhizomatic structure, evoking a network of veins or branches, is likewise a meditation on the integration of space and time. A mood of evanescence pervades his Dew series, 2017. These small enamel paintings on aluminium, with surfaces treated by an artificial dew, give the impression the surface might evaporate – and the artwork transform – at any moment. Juan Uslé’s paintings emerge from a range of interests: his love of landscape, both the rivers and hills of his native northern Spain and the grids of New York City, but also the rhythm of his breath as he paints, often at night. Soñe que Revelabas (Pechora), 2018 looks like a landscape with a river running through its centre, yet there is a tangible sense of pace, or rhythm, like a slow movement through space, and an accretion of pigment and matter over time.
Each of the artists in Surface and Space create works that conjure a dialogue between transient forms and enduring artefacts. The exhibition invites viewers to reflect on both intimate corners of space, textured surfaces and larger landscapes. The enduring pleasure of looking closely – and looking slowly.
Massimo Bartolini (b. 1965, Cecina, Italy) lives and works in Cecina. Solo exhibitions include: Centro Studi e Archivio della Comunicazione dell’Università di Parma (2020), Museo Carlo Zauli, Faenza (2019), Palazzo Oneto di Sperlinga, Palermo (2018), Fondazione Merz, Turin (2017), Lismore Castle, Ireland (2017) and Museo Marino Marini, Florence (2015). Public collections include: Castello Di Rivoli, Turin, Museion, Bolzano, Museo Pecci, Prato, The McManus Art Gallery & Museum, Dundee, Maxxi Arte Collections, Rome, National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, Fundació La Caixa, Barcelona, Voorlinden Museum, Wassenaar and The Whitworth, Manchester.
Anna Barriball (b. 1972, Plymouth) lives and works in London. Solo exhibitions include: KINDL – Centre for Contemporary Art, Berlin (2020), Galería Moisés Pérez de Albéniz, Madrid (2019), Centre Pasquart, Biel/Bienne (2018), Be-Part, Waregem (2017), Museum Villa Stuck, Munich (2013), Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh (2012) and MK Gallery, Milton Keynes (2011). Public collections include: The Arts Council Collection, London, The British Council Collection, The Government Art Collection, UK, Inelcom Collection, Madrid, Kunstmuseum Basel, Leeds Museums and Galleries, The Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh, Pasquart Art Centre, Biel/Bienne, Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design, RI, Tate, London, UBS Art Collection, Frederick R. Weisman Art Foundation, Los Angeles, CA and The Whitworth, Manchester.
Tacita Dean (b. 1965, Canterbury) lives and works in Berlin and Los Angeles. Solo exhibitions include: Glenstone Museum, Potomac, MD (2020), Espoo Museum of Modern Art (2020), Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen (2019), De Pont Museum, Tilburg (2019), Serralves Museum, Porto (2019), Kunsthaus Bregenz (2018), The Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh (2018), The Royal Academy of Arts, London (2018), The National Gallery, London (2018) and The National Portrait Gallery, London (2018). Public collections include: The Art Institute of Chicago, IL, The Arts Council Collection, London, British Council Collection, UK, Dallas Museum of Art, TX, De Pont Museum, Tilburg, Espoo Museum of Modern Art, Fundacio Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona, Hirshhorn Museum, Washington D.C, Louis Vuitton Foundation, Paris, Centre Pompidou, Paris, MoMA, New York, NY and Tate, London.
John Riddy (b. 1959, Northampton) lives and works in London. Solo exhibitions include: De Pont Museum, Tilburg (2019), Victoria and Albert Museum, London (2006), Camden Arts Centre, London (2000) and De La Warr Pavillion, Bexhill-on-Sea (2000). Public collections include: Acme Studios, London, Allreal Collection, Zurich, ARCO Foundation Collection, Madrid, The Art Institute of Chicago, Arts Council Collection, BBC Collection, London, British Council Collection, UK, De Pont Museum, Tilburg, Government Art Collection, London, ING Collection, Amsterdam, Southampton City Art Gallery, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, Tate, London, UMCA Collection, Amherst and Victoria & Albert Museum, London.
Juan Uslé (b. 1954, Santander, Spain) lives and works in New York and Saro, Spain. Solo exhibitions include: Bombas Gens Centre d’Art, Valencia (2021), Museu D'Art Contemporani D' Eivissa, Ibiza (2019) and Kunstmuseum Bonn (2014), travelling to Centro Galego de Arte Contemporánea, Santiago de Compostela, A Coruña (2014). Public collections include: Albright Knox Museum, Buffalo, NY, Boston Museum of Fine Arts, MA, Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin, MACBA, Barcelona, Centre Pompidou, Paris, Musée d’Art Moderne, Luxemburg, Museo Guggenheim, Bilbao, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid and Tate, London.