‘Transparent Things’ presents works by Deb Covell, Leo Fitzmaurice, Lee Machell, and Jo McGonigal, four artists whose work is united by a deep interest in exploring materials. Each artist displays a reductive yet playful approach, which they use to create, works that question their chosen materials’ inherent properties and limitations as well as attesting to their vast potential beyond their apparent constraints.
Deb Covell employs an extremely reductive process to create sculptural work through an exploration into the material and conceptual properties of paint. Covell’s Nowt to Summat (2014) embodies the iconography of drapery in classical illusionism but as a sculptural entity: not illusionistic but a real object made entirely in paint.
Leo Fitzmaurice manipulates advertisements, signage, and ephemera in order to reduce the objects to their simple, ubiquitous materials. In Chest (2016), Fitzmaurice covers a cardboard box with parcel tape, the various shades of which create an object that resembles a wooden crate or chest. The object’s visual conceit serves to subvert the viewer’s immediate perception, unsettling the familiar.
Lee Machell situates his practice within a vocabulary of commonplace objects. His main concerns are object-centered sculptural statements and experimentation with matches. In Hanimex (2015), Machell encircles a Hanimex slide carousel with matches; once lit, the smoke captures the object’s impression on paper, and the carousel’s cavities allow the smoke to expose its empty slots.
Jo McGonigal’s work deconstructs the expectations of the medium of painting through a subjective, phenomenological position. The composition, physicality of materials, as well as the space in which they are placed, combine to affect the experience of the viewer. Spatialised Painting (2015) is an installation incorporating materials that resonate with their environment to create a ‘painterly’ composition within a space.
Deb Covell lives in Saltburn-by-the-Sea, UK. She studied for her BA Fine Art at Liverpool Polytechnic (1985-89) and MA Fine Art at the University of East London (2001-02). Recent exhibitions include ‘Real Lines’, Gray Contemporary, Houston (2016), ‘Real Painting’, Castlefield Gallery, Manchester, ‘Secret’, Royal College of Art, London (2015), ‘From Nowt to Summat’, Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art, Middlesbrough, and ‘Aesthetica Art Prize’, York St. Marys, York Arts Trust, York (2014). Her works are in the Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art collection, Paintings in Hospitals, and private collections. She is represented by OBJECT / A, Manchester.
Leo Fitzmaurice lives in Liverpool. He studied for BA Fine Art at Liverpool Polytechnic (1986-89) and MA Fine Art at Manchester Metropolitan University (1990-92). Recent exhibitions include ‘/_’, The Sunday Painter, London, ‘Futbol: The Beautiful Game’, LACMA, Los Angeles (2014), ‘Leo Fitzmaurice, Paul Rooney’, Grundy Gallery, Blackpool (2012), and ‘You Try to Tell Me But I Never Listen’, New Art Gallery Walsall, Walsall (2011). Fitzmaurice was the 2011 winner of the Northern Art Prize. His works are in the Arts Council Collection, Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Manchester Art Gallery, The Royal London Hospital, and private collections. He is represented by The Sunday Painter, London.
Lee Machell lives in Manchester. He studied for Visual Arts degree at the University of Salford (2002-05). Solo exhibitions include ‘On Paper’, OBJECT / A, Manchester (2015), ‘Detail’, Supercollider Contemporary Art Projects, Blackpool, and ‘Interruption’, Platform A, Middlesbrough (2013). He is represented by OBJECT / A, Manchester.
Jo McGonigal lives in Manchester. She studied for BA Fine Art at the University of West of England (1988-91), and MFA at Manchester School of Art (2009-10). Recent exhibitions include ‘Real Painting’, Castlefield Gallery, Manchester, ‘Between Painting and Place’, Platform A, Middlesbrough, ‘Poppositions 2015’, Brussels (2015), ‘Straddle the Line’, APT Gallery, London (2014), and ‘Housing a Pig’, Flood Gallery, Dublin (2013). She is currently a PhD Candidate at University of Leeds (Amanda Burton Scholarship). She is represented by OBJECT / A, Manchester.