What is so radical about abstraction that it still elicits a prodigious fear in the general populace of Britain? And why is it so prevalent now, having supposedly been buried with Modernism? Imagery is as democratic as any forum can be in that to see it is to consume it (although, like any communication, not everyone can or will). If codes and symbolism are present, they are hiding in the light. Furthermore, interpretation does not rely upon the conventions of formal education, but on the empathetic and logical faculties integral to our humanity.
Perhaps the assumption is that somehow the persona of the artist is concealed by the geometric, and in particular, the ultimate non-hierarchical structure: the grid. This should not matter, but maybe the cult of the individual is so culturally engrained that to deflect from self-proclamation is subversive enough to generate suspicion.
The symposium will centre on ways in which fora are created by both geometry and space (both pictorial and social: the gallery, for example). The focus will include how these tropes are being reconsidered in current practice.
Brandon Taylor – Ruskin College Oxford
Andrew Bick – Reader in Fine Art University of Gloucestershire
Kay Bainbridge Wilkinson – Director No4a Gallery
Dan Roach – University of Worcester
Katie Pratt – University of Gloucestershire
Panel Chair – Dr. James Fisher – University of Worcester
The Human Abstract – exhibition 23May-13th www.no4a.com June 2015 symposium 3rd June 2015 University of Gloucestershire. Private view Friday 22nd May 6.30-8.30pm. see http://www.no4a.com for gallery opening hours
Exhibition at No.4a Malvern and Symposium at University of Gloucestershire
Abstractionists employ various tacks to transpose creative impulse and thought into imagery with legibility and coherence: chance, deconstructed observation, repetition, systems and intuition are all frequent strategies. Whether through the automation of process or via the seeming absence of a literary narrative, the (erroneous) assumption can be that the artist is recoiling from personal investment, denying the work human intervention. And yet, there is patently no inevitability about the outcome of artworks. The more decision-making is marginalised, the more outlandish or random choices become.
In 1966, George Brecht outlined ‘the two aspects of chance’ in his essay Chance-Imagery, ‘…one where the origin of images is unknown because it lies in deeper-than-conscious levels of the mind, and the second where images derive from mechanical processes not under the artist’s control. Both of these processes have in common a lack of conscious design.’ The world’s technologies and social structures are far more complex now. To our contemporaries, an inherent comprehension of complexity accords to the acceptance that the removal of subjectivity is futile. It is a glaringly obvious assertion that there is no rational survival function to making art in any form: and yet it is a visceral reflex.
The participating artists of this exhibition, curated by Katie Pratt, are Andrew Bick, Jo Bruton, Clare Goodwin, Lothar Götz, Maria Lalic, Peter Lamb, Angus Pryor and Brandon Taylor. The individual artists in this group each employ varying degrees of intuition counterbalanced with either geometry or chance. They also share a sensitivity to architecture and space.
Abstraction can be an opportunity to extrapolate the simple structures of modern life, either in alternative or simultaneous forms. In 1789, William Blake wrote The Human Abstract. To me, reading it in the weeks before a general election, when I hope the politics of the Welfare State will rout the politics of The Big Society, I infer an indictment on charity as a vainglorious reflection on the giver, not a sustained liberation of the recipient. This exhibition is a celebration of the generosity of exhibitors – artists with a readiness to share their insight. It is a manifesto for community, education and the social structures that underpin human society.
Katie Pratt 2015
The Human Abstract exhibition private view 22nd May 2015 6.30-8.30pm
Exhibition continues 23rd May – 13th June. Contact gallery for opening times.
The exhibition is accompanied by a discursive event hosted at the University of Gloucestershire on 3rd June 2015.
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