Day two, on with the poking about in the art spaces of East London. Last night, First Thursday, well no, let’s not call it First Thursday, it was just the first Thursday of the month. last night, besides some of what was found on those beautiful walls of StolenSpace and some of what happened under that railway arch at Resistance with the etiquette of Miss Meatface, Thursday evening, beside those two shows we just mentioned, was a disappointing washout True, there were things happening at q couple of those galleries who have an unforgivable habit of cynically charging artists a fee just to submit an e.mail and an image to an open call, so we’re not be bothering with covering their shows or indeed mentioning them until the policy publicly changes (disappointing to see some of the artists who moan about the practice themselves on their social media feeds and such are still not prepared to walk it rather than just talk it and actually have the guts to say no, shame to see some are still willing to work with these artist-exploiting galleries, why are artists so willing to roll over and be exploited so much? Anyway can tick a “like” option, not many willing to back it up, not in a Hundred Years however many Beers you throw this way will I have anything to do with galleries like that. Friday then, let see what we can find today, Thursday was a bit of a flop, Let’s have a look around on Friday afternoon. Tungsten Gallery wasn’t;t open last night, it wasn’t open on
Friday afternoon after the night before, the opening hours sign on Tungsten‘s door says they should be open, their website promised they would be today, alas the place is as locked up again today as it was last night, all locked up on in the middle of a sunny Friday afternoon, looks like it might be an interesting show from what we can see through the windows, but hey, if they can’t be bothered to open then why should we be bothered with going? We’ll maybe try again next week, like we said yesterday, really want to be positive about a new gallery space, we certainly need them around here, but what is the point of gallery if it never seems to be open? No sign of life in the cold light of Friday afternoon at a number of spaces that were lifeless last night actually, hang on though, what’s that over there by the canal? Is Guest Projects actually open?
Guest Projects is a beautiful art space, a very frustrating place, a beautifully positioned art gallery that hardly every seems to be open, today it actually is, today the space right by the canal just by Broadway Market is playing host a three artist show call Reformation. Apparently the show opened last night, (the First Thursday website didn’t list it of course, let’s not go there again, we covered enough of that yesterday, bollocks to Whitechapel and the way they treated First Thursday). Reformation is the name of the show at Guest Projects, Reformation is immediately striking, demanding of attention, three artists (from Nottingham and Birmingham), and a combination that really shouldn’t work but really really does in a rather exciting striking strident way, a show that immediately hits you with those bold pink and gold sculptural installations of Michael Forbes, that immediately hits you with the power of it all –
– Reformation presents the work of Kashif Nadim Chaudry, Michael Forbes and Barbara Walker who unearth hidden histories. Their work proposes alternative narratives that expose and undermine cultural assumptions. In an exhibition that includes sculpture, installation and large scale drawing, Reformation explores racial, sexual and personal identities within historic economic and cultural currents that still shape our world today
– A room full of powerfully big sculpture, a room full of assumptions, alive with textiles. with found objects, collections and a number of really powerful drawings that don’t really take you eye at first. Drawings quietly hanging there waiting for you to stop walking around around the sculpture and the colour and the immediate rush of the objects and the collections and the pinks and the golds and the black and the red and the the things that naturally demand attention first.
Those drawings of Barbara Walker are really powerful, challenging, beautifully drawn but some of them aren’t that comfortable to look at, the drawings are as powerful as anything in the room.
The hang is a good one, the placing deserves a mention, the way the space is used, Kashif Nadim Chaudry’s large installation just beyond the instant attention demanded by the Michael Forbes pieces. Chaudry’s installation is beautifully tactile, beautifully coloured, beautifully installed, it isn’t really until later on that you start to think about the actual objects, the relationships, the questions they throw up, you’re just there enjoying the pieces and the placings, the textures and colours. And its really is the same with those exciting Michael Forbes pieces, you don’t ask why there’s so much fleshy pink colour in there with the gold and the bling and the black until alter, you’re just there enjoying it, there walking around and around it, trying to avoid hearing any explanation from the artist, trying not to read any of the printed media, tying to just look and explore and circle around it, observe, duck, dive in, step back as you notice something that looks very African next to something very European, you notice a plastic religious icon next to an elaborate gold frame, you’re trying to look beyond what at first might seem obvious but really isn’t, you want to ask questions but then again you don’t, you’re engaged, you’re enjoying the textures, the colours, the hint of fun, or is it playfulness from the artist rather than fun? Mischievous play? The piles of “stuff”. the piles of life – you’re excited, you really are engaged, this is an exciting exhibition, three powerful artists, three artists who’s layers you want to peel back, but not too quickly, you don’t want all the answers at once, you want to slowly explore what they’re doing, what they’re saying, what they’re enjoying, you’re enjoying their anger, or is it their triumph? Or is it just their confidence to say and do what they’re saying and doing? You kind of want to go around the corner and secretly punch the air and say yes! This is a great exhibition, this makes up for it all, this what we want, this is how it should be, this is how exciting just walking into a gallery on a Thursday evening or a Friday after noon should be, this is how art should engage, must go back for more (sw)
Reformation is at Guest Projects in Hackney until May 21st, 2018. You find the gallery just besides the canal just off Broadway Market, at 1 Andrews Road, London, E8 4QL When the space is open they are rather welcoming and the door is always open, just a shame the space is open a little more, we need our galleries open.
Click on an image to enlarge or to get a bit of a flavour via the fractured slideshow…