Sunday, 12 April 2015

Interview with the artists from Demolition Derby

The Demolition Derby exhibition at Fold (158 New Cavendish st) featuring Laura Bygrave, Luke Gottelier, Kes Richardson, and Rose Wylie ends on Saturday the 18th of April. Miss it and miss out...
The Rebel Magazine: Can you describe the works of yours that were exhibited in the show?
Kes Richardson: "Three paintings from my Gardeners series, all based on a Van Gogh painting of the same title from The National Gallery of Modern Art in Rome. The gardener motif is used as a homage to heroes instrumental in the development of painting (Van Gogh and Cezanne) and also to evoke a shaman-like mysticism and connection to the natural world. Three things struck me about the Van Gogh painting: its luminosity; the graphic green, white and red of the shirt; the integration of the figure and ground. I made two small marker-pen drawings, reducing the figure to a number of geometric forms that had a freshness but needed more visual complexity. By tearing one drawing into pieces and collaging it onto the other I arrived at something with more energy. I scaled one of the drawings up to make two identical paintings. The second drawing was then painted onto a separate canvas that was cut into several pieces; half collaged onto one painting, half onto the other. The third painting in the show is a reworking of a piece from 2012 called Vegetable, Animal, Mineral. Like the other two I scaled up and added the gardener motif and then semi-obliterated it with layers (blue lines then cherries) from other bodies of recent work dealing with chance and chaos."
Laura Bygrave: "I exhibited two large cut-outs, ‘Garden’ and ‘Silver Druid’, made from painted papers that were cut and stuck onto a drawing. These are the latest works from a cycle of paintings I have been reworking for the last three years. They originate from a book I made called The God of Number Zero, a story about a parallel cosmic underworld. I have been reworking 50 images from the book, passing them through a different medium, subjecting them to a different process of reproduction or overlaying entirely new imagery to try and find something more concrete or vital in them. The two shown in the exhibition are the largest yet, where I have reworked the paintings by flattening them into planes of coloured paper to become more crystallized visually. I think of them as very self-conscious images. The sculptures that are shown were made last year while I was reworking a previous cycle of paintings. At the time I was reading about women in mythology and was interested in the images of women who were demonized throughout history; these ideas were also present in my book The God of Number Zero and the sculptures are effigies of the female figures that reoccur throughout the story. ‘Frances’ is made out of polystyrene and paper. It was an accumulative way of building a body, laying thin news print paper over a polystyrene armature, like layering skin onto a skeleton. Using flattened planes on a 3D object, switching back and forth from surface to object to create discordance in the body when parts did not add up as a whole. I think of ‘Frances’ as the sculptural embodiment of my ideas about reiteration and reinvention - I was thinking about the idea of a woman as a figure that can eat her own waste, to excrete it and then ingest it again, which is really the process I go through to make something. She also derives from my interest in witch trials. She is a woman doubled up to perform the ‘kiss of shame’ on her self – a ritual women were accused of performing on other witches in the middle ages and charged with witchcraft.
Similarly ‘Lilith’ (see above) was made through a curiosity to see what happens when I apply the way I think about making a painting onto a sculpture, by switching typical two dimensional and three dimensional devises, such as modeling and mark making. I was able to capture the interaction between nuclear light and the shadows on a face as found in the book by superimposing the exaggerated cartoon mark-making directly on to the object. The title derives from the mythological Lilith from ancient Mesopotamia and her various forms throughout history, particularly as a bad woman and an immortal succubus".
Luke Gottelier: "I suffocated one of my old paintings with 24 carat gold leaf. I made an old painting into an ashtray. The director of Fold used this for the duration of the exhibition. I glued a box of fireworks onto an old painting and set them alight."
Rose Wylie: Billie Piper Not sure how to describe it...except that it is a stapled painting. It looks more like something found hanging in an old Paris slightly grand hotel, rather than a painting. The whole colour works OK for this. And with the dis junctions of the added white paper, and the'likeness' to Billie Piper contrasting with the 'lines' for her arms ending in combs, the painting has ended up as a game of consequences. The shoes added to that, and finished it. Bird with Worm A bird sitting on paint."
Of the work by other artists in the show, were there any that you were particularly drawn to or impressed by?
Kes: Luke's 'Ashtray' strikes a chord with me. Its transformation of status from painting to receptacle is so simple and direct. It implies a per formative element, like a prop, adding a tangible whiff of a pathos and gentle humour to the show. Laura's stoic drawing/sculpture 'Lilith', belligerently standing her ground - a dug up artefact that doesn't quite fit in. Her Garden piece is also strong and Rose's fresh paper collage over an old oil painting is really exciting." Laura: "Of the other works in the show I was particularly drawn to Rose Wylie’s painting ‘Suez War’. Kes showed me an image before the show opened and I was so excited to see a painting from this point of Wylie’s career. I like what she does now, but there is something in that period of her work that strikes a chord in me. During the opening night I got to see the painting in the flesh and I was so pleased to meet Rose in person, she told me how the head in the middle of the painting was reworked over many years, painted again and again. I got the impression it wasn’t necessarily because it wasn’t ‘right’ but because it had almost become a ritual. The paint is so turgid now, it is almost sculptural, like an Ancient Greek carved relief panel." Rose: "The whole show looked very impressive as you walked down the stairs... Fresh and resolute, and beautifully hung. I missed seeing Luke's red car... But the catalogue was ace."
Luke: "I love Rose Wylie's paintings. She used to teach my wife's granny how to paint in Tunbridge Wells. Rose just gets better and better."
What was the most positive experience connected to being in the Demolition Derby show?
Kes: "Being part of an exhibition where each artist had a say and where every piece of work holds its own but contributes to an overall shared sensibility. Ross Taylor absolutely nailing that feeling in his brilliant piece of writing for the catalogue. Laura: "It was the first time I had shown my cut-outs and sculptures. It was one of those occasions where people came up to me and mentioned what the works reminded them of or the associations that were triggered for them and I was really delighted to find they were things that I considered when I made the works – ideas about the body as a cyclical thing in ‘Frances’, the biblical and sexual connotations in ‘Garden’, the way the body in ‘Silver Druid’ seemed like a fragmented, ancient body, but also futuristic. All that pleased me!"
Rose: "To meet the artists and see their work. And, Kes sent me a whole lot of images of terrific Polke drawings, on at David Zwirner, which I otherwise wouldn't've seen." Luke: "Giving the director of Fold an excuse to write off his cigarette habit against tax."
Are there any contemporary art shows on in London at the moment that you think are as good as or better than Demolition Derby? Luke: "Sigmar Polke early works on paper at Michael Werner." Kes: "Polke's early works on paper at Michael Werner is great and I chuckled my way round the Baldessari at Marian Goodman but otherwise it's the odd painting here and there. Group shows are a let down more often than not."
Laura: "I have been living in Amsterdam since September so haven’t had the chance to go back to London to see any recent shows, however Mike Pratt’s show at Juliette Jongma in Amsterdam was great. I also felt there were strong connections to DD in a show at W139 in Amsterdam, although different themes are explored across the two exhibitions I definitely sensed similar working processes used by the artists - reinvention, repetition, distillation, and using failure as a productive force." Rose: "Haven't been to any, except mine."
What's next for you? Luke: "I need to collect a lot of ball hair for my next piece, so please get in touch with Fold if you have ball hair you would like to donate." Kes: "Bigger paintings." Laura: "At the moment I am making a new series of cut-outs, and preparing to make some large scale sculptures in Norfolk over the summer." Rose: "Solo space at the Cologne Art Fair of 5 'Black Strap' painting ( 6x12ft each) (the complete set) (( yipee)); and some A1 etchings of same subject. And, in May, a 12x12ft endangered-animal painting to show with Andy Warhol's prints of endangered-species in the Azerbaijan Pavillion, Venice Biennale 2015. Solo show at K Space, Seoul, 2016" ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Rose Wylie has a solo show on at The Union Gallery in London, A solo show of work on paper at the Thomas Erben Gallery in NY, and a solo show at Douglas Hyde Gallery, Dublin.

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