The Way We Work Now
What to do and how to begin, where, why and for how long? Countless possibilities, the solution to just do, or do nothing. The reality of artists’ day to day experiences in the studio can be prosaic and mundane, often based on slow-burn, low-level methods of experimentation that, when all goes well, give rise to something greater than the individual parts might suggest. ‘The Way We Work Now’ brings together seven artists based in London whose work at heart is interested in the materials or stuff from which art is made. Incorporating painting, sculpture, installation and animation, it tests the temperature and textures of current art practice, without pointing to overarching trends of any particular kind. Rather, it finds connections that exist between otherwise disparate practices through the research and desires of the artists themselves. These encompass anthropology and collecting, craft and architecture and their interpretations, transformations and plunderings of art history, essentially unified by a playful, studio-based spirit of research. This approach recalls Camden Arts Centre’s survey exhibitions from the 1960s when, under the Directorship of Peter Carey, different artists from London who shared similar sensibilities would be shown together. The selected artists in ‘The Way We Work Now’ reflect long and ongoing, ubiquitous even, concerns that underpin many artists’ working methods. It is not that there is something especially new about what they do; more that it is possible to see their working methods returned to the surface, as it were, of current art activity in the city.
‘The Way We Work Now’ introduces emerging artists alongside more established names, most commissioned to make new work, some transporting the contents of their studios, others represented by pieces selected especially for the exhibition.
Stuart Cumberland’s energetic, often silk-screened paintings, combine a particular gestural abstraction, like an enlarged doodle, with confident passages of colour recalling something of the simple shapes of modern art from the 1950s. They infer a litany of ambiguous references through their titles, named after different obituary notices posted when the paintings were completed, from infamous cyclist Marco Pantani to actor David Hemmings. Cumberland (b.1970 Wokingham, Surrey) has had solo exhibitions at Kate MacGarry, London, 2003; ‘5 New Paintings’, Tablet, London, 2002; ‘New Paintings’, Royal College of Art, London, 2001. Group exhibitions include ‘Dirty Pictures’, The Approach, London, 2003; ‘Heart & Soul’, Sandroni Rey, Venice, California, 2000 & 60 Long Lane, London, 1999; ‘Home & Away’, Gavin Brown’s enterprise, New York, 1998; ‘Gonzo’, Bethnal Green Police Station, London, 1997; ‘Still Things’, The Approach, London, 1997; ‘East International’, Norwich Art Gallery, 1996; and ‘BT New Contemporaries’, 1993–1994.
Adam Gillam’s architectural assemblages of wood, paint and photography take the spirit of painting and move it away from the wall to form teetering totems at times animated by films and light, united by a playful and sensitive appreciation of objects and colour in space. He is interested in dismembering relationships to art history, incorporating found photographs and objects which bring a sense of personal participation to the otherwise formal concerns of artmaking. Gillam (b.1970 Maidstone, Kent) graduated from the Royal Academy Schools, London (1997) and made residencies at Triangle, New York (2004) and Braziers International Artists Workshop, Oxfordshire (2003). Recent group exhibitions include ‘Doubtful Pleasures’, APT Gallery, London (2004); ‘Eating At Anothers Table’, Metropole Galleries, Folkestone, Kent (2004); ‘Bad Touch’, Lump Gallery Projects, Philadelphia and Keith Talent Gallery, London (2003) and ‘The map is not the territory’, England & Co, London (2002). Gillam has a solo show at Keith Talent Gallery in autumn 2005.
Roger Hiorns sometimes uses impermanent media such as scent or fire and at other times has encrusted thistles, model cathedrals and car engines with bright blue crystals. In this exhibition, ceramic pots hang from the ceiling, sprouting a continuous stream of foam impotently toward the floor, shown with a suite o four ‘still-life’ photographs. Hiorns has said that he ‘is interested in what an object looks like when it is not trying to be a piece of sculpture’. Hiorns (b.1975 Birmingham) studied art at Bourneville College, Birmingham, and Goldsmiths College, London. Recent solo shows include ‘UCLA Hammer Projects’, Los Angeles; ‘Art Now’ at Tate Britain; Marc Foxx, Los Angeles; and Corvi-Mora, London. He has been shown in group exhibitions at venues including Musée d’art contemporain, Rochechouart, France; the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Santiago, Chile; and the Courtauld Institute of Art, London.
Ian Kiaer’s carefully orchestrated compositions of found or specially modelled objects and paintings make links across disciplines in architecture, painting and philosophy. His new installation combines a film of an east London motorway with his research into a building by the contemporary Japanese architect Kenzo Tang and reference to a windmill in a painting by Flemish artist Pieter Bruegel, Procession to Calvary (1664) as potential vantage points for looking down onto different kinds of traffic. Kiaer (b. 1971 London), studied at Royal College of Art, Slade and Wimbledon Schools of Art, London and in 2001 made a residency at Seoul National University, Korea. Recent solo exhibitions include ‘Statements’, Art Basel (2005); ‘The Grey Cloth’, Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York (2005); ‘Art Now’, Tate Britain (2004); Alison Jacques and Galleria Massimo de Carlo, Milan (2004) and ‘Endless Theatre Project’, Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York (2003). Group exhibitions include ‘Bloomberg New Contemporaries’, 2005; ‘Dreams and Conflicts’ in the Venice Biennale and ‘Happiness: A Survival Guide for Art & Life’, Mori Art Museum, Tokyo (2003).
Rachel Kneebone’s delicately crafted porcelain figurines extract and usurp the underlying conventions and codes of morality in their source material, from Watteau’s ‘Fête Galante’ and Bernini sculptures, to 17th century Meissen porcelain and tales such as Ovid’s Metamorphoses. Atop tomb-like bases, finely sculpted figures are consumed by plants, morphing into each other in a state of transformation and implicit eroticism. As objects they generate desire, repelled, on closer inspection, by fractured limbs and twisted bodies, dissolving half familiar references back into one another. Kneebone (b.1973 Oxfordshire) graduated from from the Royal College of Art (2004) before exhibiting in ‘Arrivals’, a group show of new graduates at Battersea Pump House Gallery, London (2004) and ‘Out of Time’, St Augustine’s Tower, Hackney, London (2004). She most recently exhibited in ‘Young Masters Show’, Art Fortnight, London (2005).
Karin Ruggaber combines large scale, seemingly casually constructed, wooden frameworks and interventions with softer but equally subtle sculptures and reliefs using materials from silk and felt to concrete. She also makes artist’s publications, such as the new edition for this exhibition Istanbul Buildings and Materials, which abutt casually taken photographs into carefully structured formats, introducing figurative elements into her work. Ruggaber (b.1969 Stuttgart, Germany) graduated from Chelsea and Slade Colleges of Art, London. Her solo exhibitions include greengrassi, London (2003 and 2005); ‘Present Future’ at Artissima, Turin, Italy (2004); and ‘René Daniëls and Karin Ruggaber’, Bloomberg SPACE, London (2002). Group exhibitions include ‘Ideal Standard’, Dexia Art Centre, Brussels (2004); Richard Wentworth’s ‘Thinking Aloud’ (1999); and ‘New Contemporaries’ (1998), both at Camden Arts Centre and touring (1998). Her other publications are her own editions Konzerthaus Liederhalle (2004); I love history (2003); and CITY (2001).
Francis Upritchard takes relics, myths and tribal legends and transfigures their associated imagery into handmade anthropomorphic adaptations of recognisable objects such as hockey sticks and ceramic vases, assembling them together with strange animalistic sculptures. Using the ceramics facilities at Camden Arts Centre, she’s made a series of new lamps to accompany Sloth, a strung out character with ghostly features and exotic rings by Karl Fritsch adorning its gloved fingers, encased in a form of display most often seen in ethnographic museums. Upritchard (b.1976 Auckland, New Zealand) made an artist’s residency at Camden Arts Centre in 2004, (see ‘File Note 04’) and since then her recent solo shows have been at The Bakery, Annet Gelink Gallery, Amsterdam and ‘Doomed, Doomed, All Doomed’, Artspace, Auckland, New Zealand (2005). Recent group shows include ‘The Secret History of Clay’, Tate Liverpool, 2004; and ‘New Blood’, The Saatchi Gallery, London, 2003. In September 2005 she has her first solo show in the USA at Andrea Rosen Gallery, New York.
The Theatre of the Absurd Martin Esslin, Methuen Publishing Ltd (2001)
A–Z London Street Atlas Geographers’ A–Z Map Company (2002)
Metamorphoses Ovid, Oxford University Press (2004)
Image on the Edge Michael Camille, Reaktion (2001)
Complete Plays Sarah Kane, Methuen Publishing Ltd (2001)
Natural History Herzog and De Meuron, ed. Philip Herzog, Jacques Herzog, Pierre De Meuron, Philip Ursprung, Lars Muller Publishers (2002)
Cloud Atlas David Mitchell, Sceptre (2005)
Schmuck — The Jewellery of Karl Fritsch Karl Fritsch, O Book Publisher, Amsterdam (2001)
Toy Story dir. John Lasseter (2000)
The Filth and the Fury — a Sex Pistols Film dir. Julien Temple (2000)
Trilogy of the Dead (1968) and The Crazies (1973) dir. George A. Romero
Burnt Offerings dir. Dan Curtis (USA 1976)
Brother of Sleep dir. Joseph Vilsmaier (Germany 1995)
The Swimmer dir. Frank Perry (USA 1968)
Roxy Music Roxy Music (1972)
The Idiot Iggy Pop (1977)
Something Must Break’ from the album Still Joy Division (1981)
‘Jolene’ (1974) and ‘9–5’ (1980) singles by Dolly Parton
Paris Live Supertramp (1979)
For Your Pleasure Roxy Music (1973)
‘Going to California’ Led Zeppelin from the album Led Zeppelin IV (1971)
'Somehow to have something physical that generates ideas is more interesting to me than just an idea that might generate something physical.’ Robert Smithson, 1972