The curatorial and editorial project for systems, non-
In Or To 9, illusionistic space is posited along the bottom edge, take the zig zagging
triangles away and the alternate bars or stripes of light and dark grey no longer
look three dimensional. The triangles lead us to see the stripes as mountain and
valley folds, a concertina formation, with a light source from the left. At least
two readings compete with each other in an unresolvable conflict. Though contradictory,
we believe both interpretations are equally true, not simultaneously but sequentially,
first it’s this and then it’s that and next it’s this again, perhaps reminiscent
I first saw paintings by Piper at the Crossing Lines exhibition, earlier this year
at , where I noted that in her Free Man series she appeared to be combining
an organic, free-
I find myself searching for meanings that a context might provide, and in lieu of
evidence I do what we all do in such situations, I make stuff up. So I consider the
grey figures to be statues and I speculatively suggest to myself that, for example, Verdi
sul Verde may show a statue of Giuseppe Verdi (really!) against a green floral ground,
“Verdi on the green”, a way of being “green on green” that isn’t abstract in the
sense of “non-
In Dewart’s paintings, highly coloured flat patterns clash with illusionistic grey
monochrome figures. The figures are context-
Alex Dewart, Pelle (Skin), 2014, Oil on printed cotton. 30 x 40cm, Image by courtesy of the artist.
In Chroma Chameleon, adjustable shaving mirrors (I think) are arranged on a black
and white striped, painted table top, the mirror glasses having been replaced or
painted over, with coloured circles. Even though they do retain some of their reflectiveness
they no longer function specifically as mirrors. They create an interesting array
of angles, planes and colours and subvert the original purposes of both table and
mirrors. Come to think of it, I am now doubting whether “assemblage” is the best
label for this and other works by Pearce in this show. In an assemblage don’t pre-
Looking at the works of these three artists, I think I discover resonance in their appreciation of clashes of opposites, whether two dimensional pattern vs. three dimensional figuration in Dewart, opposing gestalts in Piper or readymade vs. construction in Pearce. Furthermore, they seem unwilling to resolve the contradictions by favouring one position over another. Instead, they hold both sides of the argument in tension, and only then does some form of reconciliation take place. Could it be that the title of the exhibition would be better rendered with a comma after the word “First” so that it would read “At the First, Clash” (to begin with a clash and only then reconciliation)? Tongue firmly in cheek, if I wanted to give this a theological slant, following Karl Barth, I might insist that the divine “no” always precedes the divine “yes”, or if I wanted to sound more political I might echo that other Karl as well as that old band The Clash: “There’s got to be a Clash, there’s no alternative”.
At the First Clash is on at until 12 July 2014
Lindall Pearce, Chroma Chameleon, 2014, Mixed Media, Dimensions Variable, Image by courtesy of Surface Gallery
Marion Piper, Or To 9, 2014, Acrylic, Oil and Pen on Canvas, 61 x 46cm. Image by courtesy of the artist.
Marion Piper, Or To 6, 2014, acrylic and oil on canvas, 46cm x 60cm. Image by courtesy of the artist
Alex Dewart, Verdi sul Verde, 2014, oil on printed cotton, 40x 50cm. Image by courtesy of Surface Gallery
At first sight the works of t, and currently featured in the exhibition At the First Clash at , Nottingham, are highly dissimilar, a clash of styles and approaches whose relationship to one another is symmetrical rather than complementary. However, a Twitter comment by suggests she finds as much confluence or convergence as collision. Perhaps as soon as disparate practices are brought together in a shared space the similarities and interconnections become apparent, even when it’s difference that we’re celebrating. In the excellent essay by , which accompanies the exhibition, she proposes that these three artists find commonality in “their awareness and manipulation of surfaces”. I wonder if what unites them is the clash of opposites (and possible reconciliation) that occurs in each of their works.
At First Clash, Installation shot at private view. Image courtesy of Surface Gallery
©Copyright Patrick Morrissey and Clive Hancock All rights reserved.