group show ~ 5 - 28 november 2010
 
studio 1.1
london e2

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  'suddenly I am nowhere'

CRAIG ANDREWS, SAM DOUGLAS, TOM OWEN, ISIDRO RAMIREZ, JAMES RYAN

Open Wednesday to Sunday, 12noon - 6pm, or by appointment.

'How many maps, in the descriptive or geographical sense, might be needed to deal exhaustively with a given space, to code and decode all its meanings and contents? It is doubtful whether a finite number can be given in answer to this sort of question. What we are most likely confronted with is a sort of instant infinity.'   Henri Lefebvre, the Production of Space.

In a kind of echo, Barthes' phrase for something very like that is the 'intense immobility' of the photographic image. Which we know is a message without a code, always depicts a moment of death, and of course hasn't got an aura. At least Baudelaire was wrong: he didn't think photography should be an art at all, its only usefulness for disseminating pictures of real art, robbing any aura that might have been circulating. Though its impact on the practice of painting wasn't that brutally simple, photography did change things. For one thing  - at least it's a hypothesis - viewing moved from the fictional but existing depth on the canvas, created by the tricks of perspective, to the framed and flattened fragment of the recognisable world, more 2-D than any black square, whose potential depths are immeasurable. Since Manet that new way of viewing the flat surface has been one of the major challenges painting has had to face up to. One of the greatest boosts it could ever have received.

But while in one way or other these five artists (not all of them using photography)  share the the photograph's impulse to record - that objective brake on the occluding and self-aggrandising tenor of most current art production - in very disparate ways they work at the image so that codes come into play and memory is invoked by distance and opacity. The gaze is turned resolutely outwards. Through the looking-glass lens that the frame defines, they all seek out and clarify the elusive object. Whatever the subject might be, it is least likely to be the artist.

And it's not so much the push-and-pull, figure-and-ground space the five artists in this show are dealing with; more, the space of a duration, that develops with an awareness of the passing of time: the space that has become time. With photography time in person entered the frame, after all: the split second - or the hours - the shutter stayed open are readable there in the print.  Here we're not dealing at all with the pure photograph, but with ways of transforming that bring temporality forward into the light: so that what we are seeing this minute is the present and the past fused into one (there is no time in the unconscious, Freud says).

Space is made strange through multiple exposure, through collage combining the now of gestural paint with the then of the found photo, through encrustations of paint or the hypnotic repetition of layering. Trapped in a freeze-frame during a filmic dissolve, we're held at the moment of maximum compression, in the materiality of Douglas' paint- and varnish-heavy landscapes and Owen's bold brushwork or in the swivelling superimpositions of Ramirez, in the permeability of Ryan's layers, or the fragmented geometry of Andrews' architectural details, time dissolves before our eyes.

'What we call 'the present' is... a collage of disparate times, an imbrication of slipping and disparate spaces.' Victor Burgin, Brecciated Time

studio1.1


For more information or images contact:
Michael Keenan on 07952 986 696