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Making Matters at Platform A Gallery; a review by Andy Parkinson
Making Matters, at Platform A Gallery Middlesbrough, explores the relationship between the construction of an artwork and its physical presence, featuring work by Andrew Bick, Katrina Blannin, Clem Crosby, David Ryan, Francesca Simon and Kate Terry.
Andrew Bick, OGVDS [alu] #3-
Clem Crosby’s Penmanship is desirable, more gestural that geometric, facture seems
more important than faktura. But again, the opposite may also be true, in that self-
Facture (the handwriting of the artist) and faktura (materiality) seem also to be an unavoidable distinction, although both are present in the works on show here, resulting in a discussion between them rather than a strict privileging of one over the other.
I also wish to distinguish between fact and fiction; this relates to the object/image distinction, fact and object taking sides against fiction and image. I wonder if other distinctions might cluster around this one, so that on the side of fact and object we might also find rationality, whilst the irrational could be allied with fiction and image. At Making Matters fact, object, and rationality are, perhaps, emphasised. But only at first sight, because as I continue to view I notice that a dialogue with these opposite terms becomes unavoidable.
Katrina Blannin’s Three-
Paying attention to Blannin’s tonally varied surface, materiality, factual ‘object-
If Kate Terry’s three-
There are also other distinctions to be made; for example, ‘making paintings’ as
opposed to ‘painting pictures’ (the other artists represented here being painters).
Making matters a lot more than, say, representation. The works in this exhibition,
Installation shot. Foreground: Kate Terry, Series IX no.3, 2014, powder coated steel, painted wood, plywood, 190 x 50 x 50cm. Image by courtesy of Platform A Gallery and the artists.
Katrina Blannin, Three-
Clem Crosby, Penmanship is desirable, 2014, oil on Formica on aluminium, 76 x 64cm. Image by courtesy of the artist and Pippy Houldsworth Gallery, London.
David Ryan, Set 6 (e), 2014, oil on linen, 45 x 55 cm. Image by courtesy of the artist.
I think he uses the same structure as a starting point for all the paintings, although
as I view these I am doubting whether that is the case, as the two paintings look
so different, and my attempts to retrace the starting point are unsuccessful. My
belief is that the GW in the title refers to Gillian Wise, a member of the British
Constructivist Group, which exhibited frequently in the UK in the sixties, and the
Systems Group, founded by Malcolm Hughes and Jeffrey Steele in 1970. I believe that
Bick’s grid structure is based on a series of works by Wise; the quotation clearly
indicating an association with that tradition, and supplying a context in which the
work should be viewed. His practice is systematic, in that he uses and re-
Left, Francesca Simon, In Construction, 2014, acrylic on linen on wood, diptych,
each panel 122 x 93 cm. Image courtesy of the artist and Beardsmore Gallery, London.
Right, Andrew Bick, OGVDS-
Francesca Simon’s process is similar to Bick’s in repeatedly using the same starting
point and developing a series of variations upon it. Also, her diptych In Construction, situated
in a corner here at Platform A, in which each panel is at right angles to the other,
is surely a ‘system’, according to Bertalanffy’s general definition: “a set of elements
standing in inter-
Systems are not composed, but constructed, as is geometry. Making matters, and even when, in this exhibition, gesture takes the place of geometry, I think it is a systematic, or at least a procedural, approach that these artists share, although the specific details of their systems or procedures vary considerably. I have attempted to use a set of distinctions to understand the work, but I seem to have found that even whilst employing them they break down, reminding me that whatever abstract or reductive art might be in the 21st century, it can no longer be dogmatic.
For the Russian Constructivists, making mattered because it provided a revolutionary vision of art appropriate for the new order. Later, an international Constructivism, having dropped the Utopian mission, found that making mattered because it provided an opportunity to make an art according to laws of its own, “without reference to exterior nature or its transformation” . For me, making matters because it opens my eyes to the constructedness of the world around me, and to my own agency in constructing that world, even though that agency may turn out to be an illusion.
Making Matters continues at Platform A Gallery until 20 November 2014.
 Ludwig von Bertalanffy, General System Theory, Revised Edition 1969, p55.
 Max Bill quoted by Brandon Taylor in After Constructivism, 2014, p88.
David Ryan’s improvisatory paintings share with Crosby’s a more gestural approach
than, say, the geometry of Terry, Blannin and Simon. Bick’s work might be seen as
bridging geometry and gesture, including as he does gestural elements within a repeated
and controlled schema, or sometimes making up his now-