Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Late Bloomers

A couple of days ago I picked up an intriguing flyer for an exhibition which opened yesterday evening, the flyer gave no real impression of what to expect but due to the location and having a football free evening I took the opportunity to pay a visit.
‘Drawn from Experience’ at 148b St John St in Clerkenwell is curated by Nobuko Asakai and features the work of 15 artists whose practice as artists is informed by their previous professions or are embarking on a career as an artist at a later than expected time in their lives.

I expected the work to be different to the predominant contemporary stylings of the London art world but for these late bloomers these stylings already wheigh heavy in their work, maybe a little too reliant on the ‘trash’ aesthetic. Fashion photographer Leigh Keilly’s photos in black and white with splashes of colour on the hair and lips of the models seemed particularly obvious, as fashion photography this is run of the mill stuff but technically competent and no doubt he will be much valued as he continues his studies at the London College of Fashion. Unfortunately to sidestep such images into an art context just doesn’t work.
Of other exhibits, many of the small paintings on view in the exhibition can be seen replicated in art schools across the country.

The artists that caught my eye were those who took the grungy materials used in their work and rendered them with a light touch to encourage an engagement with the overlooked objects and subjects they were handling. Lea Louvray’s Jellyfish chandelier in a lightbox was visually arresting and Christian Legnar’s copper pipe sculptures seemed ambiguous but caught the eye nonetheless.
The most successful pieces were curator Asakai’s bubblewrap suitcase titled “How to Cross Borders and Get Back Safely” and Karling Wong’s disturbing piece using a silk surgical gown. The gown had been hung simply on the white painted brick walls of the exhibition space and was stained and torn, I was drawn to the subtle colours and lightness of the material, first viewed it can be seen as an abstract form but after a short while the practical use of the gown begins to creep in to your consciousness.

On the whole Wong’s piece sums up this whole exhibition, I found the show slightly unsettling but captivating without quite knowing why.


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