Shilpa GuptaFor, in your tongue I cannot hide, 2017-2018
For, in your tongue I cannot hide is based on poets from around the world who have been imprisoned for their words. For centuries language has always been a key tool of political power and control. This systemic hijacking of language for political goals bas been consistently countered by poets who have exploited its subversive potential to counter state-driven narratives. Yet the result of taking a stance against the state and its use of language for profiling, segregating and creating hierarchies, has meant imprisonment and persecution to poets across history. The work is the result of Shilpa Gupta's research into poets who have been jailed but whose work cannot be silenced. Each book on the shelf is made of gunmetal and has inscribed on it a poem of resistance
Callum InnesExposed Painting Quinacridone Gold, 2020
Exposed Painting Quinacridone Gold perfectly exemplifies the inherent process of painting and un-painting behind Callum Innes’ work, where the play between additive and subtractive processes means that the potential for uncertainty is ever present within a rigorous visual language. The element of time is also inscribed in these paintings; from the time involved in the different processes of their making, to the visible traces of those processes, the artist has described his work as ‘freezing a moment in time’. Although process is central to Innes’ aesthetic it is never an end in itself, rather it serves to heighten the luminous effect he achieves.
Callum Innes made Exposed Painting Quinacridone Gold during lockdown in his Oslo studio: quivering layers of paint partly dissolved in turpentine, exposing strata of colour and tone, suggesting a dark, closed room by lamplight, a mysterious blackness with glimmers of hope, also the fragility of skin.
John RiddyLondon (Peckham), 2019
London (Peckham) belongs to a series consisting of large-scale colour photographs of London. These pieces depict the evidence of historical progress etched on structures that surround us. This has been a recurrent preoccupation for Riddy and it is closely related to his long-standing determination to make photographs which chime with everyday urban experience. ‘For me photography is still more interesting when it resonates with what we know. The more every day the subject, the greater the complexity when it is transformed within the medium. I think the after-image is more compelling and the work more durable when it resonates with what we think of as shared experience.’ –John Riddy.
Nancy SperoGoddess and Dancing Figures, 1985
Throughout the five decades of her radical career the American artist and activist Nancy Spero (1926-2009) placed the lived female experience at the heart of her practice. She challenged aesthetic and political orthodoxies, abandoning figurative painting in the 1960s in reaction to the horrors of the Vietnam War. In the 1980s Spero began using handprint figures directly on paper turning her own drawings as well as visual material she acquired from books and newspapers, into photoengraved zinc plates from which she could handprint multiple impressions.
In Goddess and Dancing Figures there are variations on the imprint, resulting from different pressure of the artist’s hand used to transfer the image to the surface, the angling of the plate and the amount of ink used. The closely grouped repetitions of the backing figures lend a sense of both pictorial depth and an expression of community. These ‘dancing figures’ are from ancient indigenous Australian art with the same elongated figure repeated six times at varying pressures, and just the torso of another such figure appearing on the right. In the foreground a triumphant ‘Goddess’ figure raises her arms above her head as if about to perform an incantation.
Polly ApfelbaumHalfpipe 2020, 2020
In Halfpipe 2020 a rainbow runs down the wall, on which are embroidered a snake and a bird, diagonally opposite each other, in a repeated pattern. Formally this jacquard weaving evokes interior furnishings but, aesthetically, it wittily riffs on colour field paintings, particularly the striped canvases of Kenneth Noland. The snake signifies temptation and seduction and is the embodiment of evil, while the cheerful little bird, who seems oblivious to the snake’s presence, exemplifies purity and virtue. The tension between prey and victim in Halfpipe 2020 is contradicted by the spectrum of bright colours onto which the animals are superimposed. This is what the artist terms a ‘spiritual colour chart’ based on the Rainbow Flag that symbolises gay liberation, designed by activist Gilbert Baker who saw optimism in the rainbow and associated each colour with a positive aspect of life.
Tacita DeanDouble Negative II (Antigone), 2019
This photographic work is made from a negative from Tacita Dean’s 35mm double Cinemascope film work Antigone, 2018. Double Negative II (Antigone) features an image of the eclipsing sun, a motif which measures time throughout Antigone and one which Dean has returned to numerous times in her work. The film itself is based on the name of the artist’s older sister, which references the Greek tragedian Sophocles’s Antigone from 440 BCE. Dean invited Canadian poet Anne Carson to read her poem TV Men: Antigone (Scripts 1 and 2) repeatedly throughout the film, which she discovered was also inspired by the gap between the Sophoclean plays. She asked actor Stephen Dillane to ‘dress up’ as Oedipus. Antigone met with international acclaim when it opened at the Royal Academy of Arts in London in 2018.
Cornelia ParkerEndless Column IV, 2012
Endless Column IV is one of Cornelia Parker’s installations that feature found, acquired, or modified objects. A hallmark of Parker’s work is her distinctive take on the cultural and emotional content of history as embedded in the commonplace and the anonymous. To achieve the effect in Endless Column IV, Parker laid out an arrangement of familiar domestic silverware and then crushed them; the pieces becoming figuratively and literally flattened as the bowls morph into silhouette reminders of what once was. The action Parker takes in modifying such objects breaches the standard decorum and deference we bring to what is valued as precious, rare, or symbolic in our culture.
Dayanita SinghBawa Rocks, 2020
In Bawa Rocks, Singh continues her investigations into different ways of exhibiting photographs. Much of her recent work takes the form of ‘Photographic Architecture’: structures which are not merely a means of storage or display, but are an integral part of her practice.
The pillars in particular are a form developed by the artist which follow on from her mobile museums. Each pillar consists of 5 cubes that can pack flat. This modular design in theory allows for the endless rearrangement of the stackable cubes and swapping of photographs.
In this piece, the photographs feature majestic rocks around which the Kandalama Hotel was built by celebrated Sri Lankan architect Geoffrey Bawa (1919-2013). For the artist, each rock or cluster of rocks feels like a very spare shrine; the corridors of the hotel are her pilgrimage.
Fiona BannerBook Antiqua, Bukarest, 2020
Central to Banner’s practice has been an exploration of language and communication, its joys, challenges and frustrations. Banner’s Full Stops, a series she begun in 1998, represent the opposite: the space in-between sentences; a literal escape from the verbal language that engulfs us. Banner has returned to this theme over the years, so that these works punctuate her practice itself.
Banner’s Full Stop Seascapes are a series of interventions into found genre paintings, military seascapes acquired from local antique shops. She has erased their original subjects, august galleons, battleships and destroyers, replacing them instead with hand-painted full stops drawn from her personal archive, as a way to assuage her dream of sending them out to sea. She replaces an aggressively masculine subject matter with something esoteric, playful and seductive. The exotic titles of this work, Book Antiqua, Bukarest, conjures up other worlds but in fact refers to the fonts the full stops are rendered in.
In American English, this grammatical mark is called a ‘period’, recalling, for the artist, the passage of time and our current state of suspended animation awaiting Brexit and living under Covid-19 restrictions.
Fiona TanPickpockets, Marie Thiriot, 2020
Fiona Tan has a passion for archives and while at the Getty Research Center, LA, she came across an unusual collection of photographs bound together in an antique album. These 250 photographs were early examples of mugshots, taken in 1889, cataloguing the pickpockets arrested at the Exposition Universelle (World’s Fair) in Paris. Tan was fascinated by these portraits and the unknown life stories of their subjects, and so started this major ongoing project, Pickpockets. She invited a group of authors and playwrights to respond to the photographs and devise monologues from the point of view of selected pickpockets, which were then recorded by actors. The resulting video installation investigates the contested realm of representation, and explores our own relationship to historical time from within the present.
Pickpockets, Marie Thiriot, a philosophical Frenchwoman, is but one of a colourful cast of characters from across Europe. Pickpockets will premiere this autumn at Fiona Tan’s first extensive mid-career retrospective With the other hand presented concurrently at Kunsthalle Krems and Museum der Moderne, Salzburg.
Daniel SilverPeter, 2018
Peter is one of a series of figures carved in marble and onyx from the celebrated Serravezza and Pietrasanta stone yards in Italy. The work originates in Silver’s interest in the Mannequin; from its origins in classical sculpture to such uses today as in window displays. The figure itself is in part transcribed from a shop mannequin that he has draped in fabric and then recreated in marble; the clothed, armless body brings to mind works by Rodin among others, yet this seated figure is defined by a certain stillness which is a trait of classical sculpture.
Juan UsléContraviento, 2020
Juan Uslé’s Contraviento is constructed with translucent layers of handmade saturated colours, evoking the environs and energy of his Northern Spanish homeland and New York City. Dividing his time between Spain and New York, Uslé says he has always felt a sense of displacement, which is an important theme in his work. Uslé imbues his signature sense of dynamism into his paintings by exploiting the nature of opposites: between organic and geometric forms, randomness and order, and the simultaneous physicality of paint and its ability to disappear into sheer, ethereal surfaces and illusions of light.
Frieze Viewing Room 2020 - Preview