Another night, another opening, busy Tuesday night down by the Old Street Roundabout, the summer sun is out and so are the people, the invitation has been extended to come cover the show so down with the paint brush and on to the 55 bus for a cold beer and some art at Beers (love the red crane against the blue sky, don’t like what it means, East London is changing…).
The idea of an art show based around works on paper is of course a fine fine idea, how could it possible not be? Nothing new or revolutionary of course but then no one at Beers London really claimed it was. Just a show featuring art work on paper, a simple uncluttered show. Thirty-five pieces of smaller sized works on paper, thirty-five pieces confined in conservative frames and hung in a politely regimented way on a formal set of very white walls.
Beers London is extremely proud to bring together a diverse selection of artists who have each contributed a piece or two of original work on paper for exhibit in 35 Works on Paper. The show features emerging, mid-career, and established artists from around the globe who each bring their unique perspective to an exhibition that celebrates art in what can often be its simplest, most instantaneous – and invariably profound – articulation. The included works cover a large breadth: including abstract, figurative, and even conceptual pieces, as well as proposed sketches, text-based work, painting, drawing, and even collage. All are unique works either created specifically for this exhibition or culled from the artist’s own personal archive.
The artists involved are: Dale ADCOCK, Andrew BIRK, Sverre BJERTNES, Laura BRUCE, Yvette COPPERSMITH, Kim DORLAND, Austin EDDY, Danny FOX, Alicia GIBSON, Paul HOUSLEY, Gary HUME, Andy KOLAR, Adam LEE, Rhys LEE, Christian LITTLE, Jonathan LUX, Jessie MAKINSON, Kathryn MAPLE, Holly MILLS, Ryan NORD KITCHEN, Tal R, Josh REAMES, Tony ROMANO, Andrew SALGADO, Mason SALTARRELLI, Daniel SEGROVE, Struan TEAGUE, Kristian TOUBORG, Johannes VANDERBEEK and Paul WACKERS.
Strange show, a viewer could very easily be fooled and left with a rather underwhelmed feeling, besides the obvious fact that the works are on paper, there’s nothing really uniting the show or the hang, there’s no relationship between the pieces, just a polite line of pieces evenly spaced and conservatively placed, politely formal and nicely uniform, all lined up like some kind of identity parade. not sure how invariably profound things are? Just a line up and each piece there to be viewed, absorbed, judged in isolation before moving on to the next. This isn’t a show that grabs hold of you, it isn’t a demanding exciting show, and I suspect this really isn’t a show that tells you that much about the artists involved either – the artists involved who’s work we already know really aren’t represented here in a powerful way, Laura Bruce for instance is far more dynamic and her drawings far more exciting that than this small piece would have you believe, her recent solo show at Hackney’s New Art Projects was so alive with observed energy, something really not reflected here. I’m kind of guessing the artists we don’t know should not be judged on the grounds of what is on the wall here in the rather compact white cube that is now home to Beers London.
This is a an underwhelming show, until you block out all the noise of an opening night and really start looking at each piece in quiet isolation, when you do take the time then one or two things start to jump out, a collaged piece here, an abstract painterly piece of paper there, a drawing just along the line – actually there isn’t too much in the way of drawing in here. The work is simple, uncluttered, instantaneous, personal, did the artists intend some of these pieces to be on a gallery wall? Sketch books and bits of paper marked and left in a studio can be very personal things never to be seen while the big canvases are, an artist’s inner thoughts.
A show of artists from all over the world, it does kind of feel like a more exciting show could have been put together by a curator spending a day exploring any one of the studio complexes of South London or Hackney Wick or Leytonstone or… The energy of an artist’s open studio or an artist’s sketch book really isn’t to be found here in the formality of this show, neither is the excitement we see at artist-led events in the backstreets, studios or basement spaces of London is not to be found in here. The frustrating thing is Beers, like the aforementioned new Art Projects and so many of the others of the London art establishment, show a reluctance to go poke around in the back rooms or artist-run galleries of London – Beers never could find time to cross the street and take a look in any of the smaller artist-run galleries when they called Vyner Street home (although they are running another of those cynical open calls where artists are expected to pay them just to open an e.mail), I suspect a far more exciting show of works on paper could have been put together (if fact I damn well know it could), this is a very disjointed affair, “the included works cover a large breadth: including abstract, figurative, and even conceptual pieces, as well as proposed sketches, text-based work, painting, drawing, and even collage. All are unique works either created specifically for this exhibition or culled from the artist’s own personal archive”, but it is a show that could fool you in to thinking there really isn’t too much here, there are some interesting pieces in here, one or two splendid pieces, it is worthy of investigation, don’t be fooled, things aren’t quite so underwhelming as they may at first appear, it is a worthy show, there are some interesting pieces, there are pockets of energy, of delicate interest, painterly privacy, slices of emotion, a committed mark, a thrust of colour or texture. Don’t be fooled, don’t think there’s nothing here, don’t be too underwhelmed, take the time to look and you will be rewarded here and there, on the surface it may not feel like it, but this is a decent show with a handful of standout pieces and one or two splendid moments. Not going to pick out individual names or works here, it is about the show as a whole and it is worth going for the whole, it is worth your time, it is worth probing, taking the time to explore and look, it just kind of feels like it there have been so so much more to it (sw).
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More information about the show and the artists here. The exhibition is on from 24th August until 24th September 2016, BEERS London is found at, 1 Baldwin Street, London, EC1V 9NU (just by the Old Street roundabout). The gallery is open Tues – Fri: 10am – 6pm, Saturday: 11am – 5pm
Click on an image to enlarge or run the fractured slide show.