You never quite know what East London’s Annka Kultys Gallery is going to throw up, you do know whatever it is it will be interesting, that it will be worth your time, Annka Kultys is an always challenging gallery, never predictable, sometimes annoying, almost always very rewarding, and over the last two or three years the unimposing gallery – quietly hiding above a shop on the Hackney Road, just around the corner from Cambridge Heath station – has always been worth checking out. It might be paint, it might be performance, it might be our current favourite Marton Nemes, it might be some kind of live broadcast from a street corner of a city in China that takes up a whole wall in the gallery, you just don’t know what it might be, Annka Kultys Gallery is one of our favourite East End art spaces. Cacotopia is something that has been happening at the start of every year, four artists, a week each, you got to be on the ball to catch it all Cacotopia 04 opened last Friday night, it really is going to have to go some to be as rewarding as 03 was last year.
We’ve deliberately not looked too much in advance of the opening, walking up those very fresh very white stairs, we have no hint of an idea what to expect, no idea in terms of the medium or anything else, we haven’t looked up names or anything, I like walking up those stairs without really having an idea, bit like walking down the stairs at Fred Mann’s New Art Projects, I like a gallery that affords a bit of drama in terms of the entry. Layers and leaf growth, two things that rather appeal, a wall full of equally sized very lush very green looking pieces, this are immediately looking good – and these are pieces that require you get right in there in with the growth and the layers and details and the edges of those pieces of green (as well as the metallic edges), actually I could stand there looking at each one of these for ages, the greens, the edges, the layers, the tiny bits of red that bring all those beautiful greens and those drops of water and the edges you don’t see until you really look. Some of it is like the bark you see on London Plane Trees, it really is difficult to not try and pull a layer off, these pieces are incredibly tactile –
“For the opening reception and week one of Cacotopia 04, the work of London-based Filipino artist Nicole Coson (b. 1992, Manila, Philippines), will be on show. Coson’s work examines the economies of visibility and disappearance in the case of overlooked bodies and includes explorations of invisibility in warfare as tactical counter measures (for example, camouflage) and cultural visibility in art. For Cacotopia 04, Coson will be presenting eight large prints on paper, attached by magnets to metal sheets. Each work is derived from a single image, a photo of a tree-lined pond that the artist fell into as a young girl and had to be rescued from, being physically dragged from it by her father. Coson creates each work by building up layers of collage from the pond image (the same image but treated differently in each work) and then etching is used to create a camouflage effect across the work. The different treatments of the pond image reference how memory can alter over time and in iteration such that the effect of remembering is never identical, never homogenous, ever slippery and unreliable (and not unlike Heraclitus’s dictum that you cannot step in the same river twice). The variations between works therefore embody the temporal distances between memories and the camouflage the capacity for memory to distort and mutate. Such distortion is reminiscent of Freud’s concept of screen memory, the psychological theory of a childhood trauma being replaced by a vivid but bland memory, whereby recall of the traumatic event is blocked or screened by memory of some harmless but associated and inessential aspect of the experience. The camouflage in Coson’s prints may be viewed as a Freudian screening of the traumatic image of the fateful pond the artist fell into.-
– Whatever she’s saying or suggesting, whatever her reason, these are beautiful pieces, compelling pieces, pieces that hold you, pull you in, pieces that are hard to walk away from, piece you can keep on finding things in, shapes, edges, leaves, lines. Must admit Nicole Coson is a new name – and this is part of the attraction of Annka Kultys and this annual Cacotopia thing they treat us to – these eight pieces are refreshing, they’re exciting (and as we might have said before, the photographs here or elsewhere do the pieces no justice whatsoever), it may have been traumatic or cathartic, and maybe, once you know, you can find some of that in there, it is about the excitement of layers and peeling them back, things maybe camouflaged or screened behind the layers, I expect, or maybe hope rather than expect, that more will emerge as we see where Nicole Coson goes next. Cacotopia 04 off to an exciting start then, be quick though, there’s only a week to catch each artist… (sw)
Nicole Coson’s work is currently on view at Annka Kultys Gallery, the first instalment of Cacotopia 04. Cacotopia will unfold over the course of four weeks, with a new artist being featured each week. This fourth edition features Nicole Coson, Bex Ilsley, Garrett Pruter and Richie Culver and follows its now traditional format of allocating each artist a solo exhibition of one week’s gallery time during the month long show.
Nicole Coson: Week 1 – 16 January – 18 January 2020
Bex Isley: Week 2 – 23 January – 25 January 2020
Garrett Pruter: Week 3 – 30 January – 1 February 2020
Richie Culver: Week 4 – 6 February – 8 February 2020
Annka Kultys Gallery is at 472 Hackney Road,1st Floor, London E2 9EQ. You find it upstairs via the red door by the side of the shop right by the bus stop…Thursday to Saturday, 12pm – 6pm or by appointment.