ORGAN: Five Recommended Art Things – Trenton Doyle Hancock at Hales, Sarah Ball at Stephen Friedman Gallery, #43Leaves, Have You Eaten Yet? at Deptford X, Rose Wylie at David Zwirner Gallery, Notes on Protesting, Marcus Coates, Peter Liversidge, Goshka Macuga at Kate MacGarry Gallery, Deflect…

Notes on Protesting

Five more art things. five art things, five more art things happening somewhere around right now or any moment now. Five art shows to check out in the coming days. An (almost) weekly round up of recommended art events. Five shows, exhibitions or things we rather think might be worth checking out. Mostly London things for that is where we currently operate and explore, and like we said last time, these five recommendations come with no claims that they are “the best five” or the “Top Five”, we’re not one of those annoying art websites that ignore most things whilst claiming to be covering everything and proclaiming this or that to be the “top seven things” or the “best things this weekend”, no, this is simply a regular list of five or so art recommended things coming up soon that we think you might find as interesting as we do.

Five art things happening now and coming up in the next few days in no particular order, just five art things happening around about now

Trenton Doyle Hancock

1: Trenton Doyle Hancock – Water Ground Hell Sky at Hales Gallery –  21st Jan until 26th Feb 2022, with an opening on Thursday 20th Jan, 6pm until 8.30pm –  “Hales is delighted to announce Water Ground Hell Sky, the gallery’s second solo exhibition with the legendary American artist Trenton Doyle Hancock”.

“The exhibition of new work continues Hancock’s grand visual epic — a complicated and textured exploration of life’s complexities and existential conundrums. The intricate story of a set of characters including Torpedo Boy (one of Hancock’s alter egos), Mounds (half-animal-half-plant-creatures), their aggressors, ‘Vegans,’ and SKUM (a larvae species in a state of becoming) has been developed over decades, with each new work contributing to the saga. 

Hancock (b. 1974, Oklahoma City, OK, USA) was brought up in Paris, Texas and gained a BFA from East Texas State University and an MFA from Tyler School of Art at Temple Philadelphia. Hancock lives and works in Houston, Texas. He grew up in an all-American household governed by Christian ideals and found solace in devouring popular culture — movies, comic books, superheroes, toys, music, and television shows of the 1970s and 1980s.[1] The origin stories of the bible as well as his favourite comic characters have greatly inspired and informed his unique practice and mythology of the ‘Moundverse.’ 

The exhibition takes its title from the 2021 work, Water Ground Hell Sky, a masterful depiction of the artist’s alter ego Torpedo boy. Hancock’s characters are an extension of himself, ultimately each work is a self-portrait. The narrative world is rooted in the artist’s life — always striving to reach a psychological equilibrium between the work and himself. Hancock likens this to passing a ball between himself and his characters, coming together to reveal and create something exciting. The political undercurrents in the works do not come from the headlines in the news, instead they come from deeply personal experience.

Focused strands of Hancock’s practice make up this exhibition, each work is a distinct snapshot, providing a true reflection of his studio. Narrative elements are communicated through formal artistic explorations of materiality, shape, line, and colour. In distinct styles, Hancock creates graphic iconographies as well as exploring more organic processes of making, battling with the canvas to create layered surfaces. He has used swathes of felt and fur since 1998, often in bombastic installations, in this exhibition the use of the medium is at its most distilled, using fur as though it is paint. Torpedo Boy (2021) has a pop art quality to the repetitive background and a sub-series of ‘Mounds’ are much freer and more expressive in the mark making.

In two magnificent works, Water Ground Hell Sky and I Didn’t Even Get To Say Goodbye, Torpedo Boy is an American Footballer. A sport long associated with national identity and the American dream, Hancock unpacks American Football as a cultural signifier. In I Didn’t Even Get To Say Goodbye Torpedo Boy fights with Vegan characters that are clambering over his body. In this war, Torpedo Boy has used the bones of the vegans to create his Football helmet. Hancock has long thought about how sport in the US promises to elevate children of colour out of their circumstances, designed to keep Black people in a system where everyone makes money, likening it to the systems of industrial prison complexes and the military and seeing all these organisations as interconnected. These themes are layered with the intensely personal, – the work and title references the passing of Hancock’s grandmother. The decorative pattern that almost consumes Torpedo Boy was the pattern of the living room floor tiles in his grandmother’s house in Paris, Texas and is a motif often repeated throughout Hancock’s works. This work brings together signifiers of both her presence (the quatrefoil pattern) and her passing (the bones which make up Torpedoboy’s protective helmet). 

The impactful black and white Step and Screw series began with a single idea — for Hancock’s alter ego, Torpedo Boy to come up against one of Philip Guston’s ineffectual Klansmen characters. Hancock sees Guston as a ‘grandfather character’ in his artistic practice, someone he has looked up to.

“I feel like my character Torpedo Boy has gone through a similar kind of metamorphoses over time [as Guston’s Klansmen character] and it would only make sense that my avatar and Philip Guston’s [avatar], I would describe it as one of his avatars, would meet up.” (Hancock, 2020)

This initial one-time experiment developed into a compelling visual essay exploring white supremacy, expanding to include organisations such as the police and organised religion. In this body of work Hancock confronts racial injustice, drawing from his own upbringing in North Texas and the political history of racism in the American South. This personal exploration opens up a deep discussion of culture, race and power. 

The exhibition invites you to experience Hancock’s richly imagined universe. In iconographic and humorous depictions, the layered works hint at something darker, about society as a whole and individual culpability in racial injustices. Looking inwards to look outwards, not only is the artist portrayed in narrative, so is the viewer”.

Hales Gallery is at The Tea Building, 7 Bethnal Green Road, London, E1 6LA. The gallery is open Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, 11am until 6pm, the show runs from 21st Jan until 26th Feb 2022, with an opening on Thursday 20th Jan, 6pm until 8.30pm

Sarah Ball

2: Sarah Ball at Stephen Friedman Gallery – Opening night 27th January 2022 – “Stephen Friedman Gallery is pleased to present its first solo exhibition by British artist Sarah Ball. Demonstrating an acute sensitivity to the psyche of her subjects, Ball’s enigmatic portraits explore the way we project images of ourselves to the world. The show is accompanied by a new monograph that spans the last five years of the artist’s practice, featuring essays by Flavia Frigeri (curator, National Portrait Gallery, London) and Philomena Epps (writer)”.

Using closely cropped compositions, this body of work celebrates individuals whose self-expression contest conventional gender norms. Ball focuses on the idiosyncrasies of her sitters by depicting their physiognomy, jewellery, makeup and tattoos. These new paintings reveal a newly abstracted visual language for the artist. Soft brushstrokes, muted colour palettes and monochromatic backgrounds contrast with the confrontational gazes of her subjects. The immediacy of their gazes is intensified by the dramatic shifts in scale of the paintings.

Ball’s works often draw attention to the discrepancies between appearance and gender identity. Using a range of sources to inform her portraits, including newspaper cuttings, archival photographs and social media, Ball says that these new paintings are the “most autobiographical to date. They draw on [her] memories of young adulthood and the influence of artists such as David Bowie, Chrissy Hynde, Poly Styrene and Siouxsie Sioux.”

While her sitters’ physical characteristics hint at their personal context, Ball denies the viewer any narrative about their identity. This approach results in a sense of timelessness that speaks to the various influences on her practice, including Dutch portraiture and contemporary film. Explaining that film-makers such as Roy Andersson motivate her work, the artist suggests that “these little vignettes give you a little bit of information but then invite you to fill in the rest.”

Ball was born in Yorkshire, UK in 1965 and currently lives and works in Cornwall. Ball studied at Newport Art College in the early 1980s and completed an MFA at Bath Spa University in 2005. She has exhibited widely including at The Royal Academy of Arts, London; Victoria Miro, London; Somerset House, London; Half Gallery, New York; Victoria & Albert Museum, London and Anima Mundi, St Ives, Cornwall. Ball’s works are included in the permanent collections of the Kistefos Museum, Jevnaker; British Museum, London and Rachofsky Collection, Dallas.

Stephen Friedman Gallery is found in two places on the same street – Gallery 1: 25-28 Old Burlington St, W1S 3AN / Gallery 2: 11 Old Burlington St, W1S 3AQ (it isn’t clear which gallery is hosting Sarah Ball. The  show runs from 28th January 2022 until 26th February 2022 with a private view on 27th January, 6–8pm. Gallery Hours – Tuesday to Friday, 10am – 6pm, Saturday, 11am–5pm, admission is free. See more of Sarah’s work

3: Have You  Eaten Yet? – Lunar New Year Festival 2022, a weekend of festivities, art workshops & performances taking place across Deptford.  Artist collective Have You  Eaten Yet? (last seen at Deptford X) and community charity Vietnamese Family Partnership (Gia Đình Việt) are proud to present Lunar New Year Festival 2022. The full weekend programme of events can be found on the Deptford X website. Events happen at the Deptford X Space itself  – Deptford X, 9 Brookmill Rd, London SE8 on January 29th and Deptford Lounge & Giffin Square – 9 Giffin St, SE8 on January 30th.  More details via the Deptford X website.

Rose Wylie: Car and girls

4: Rose Wylie – Car and girls at David Zwirner Gallery – “David Zwirner is pleased to present new work by British artist Rose Wylie (b. 1934) in The Upper Room at the gallery’s London location. The exhibition will feature both two- and three-dimensional works, emphasising the interchange between painting and sculpture in the artist’s practice and highlighting the way in which her move into sculpture in recent years has enabled her to explore new perspectives on recurrent motifs. 

Wylie has become known for her uniquely recognisable, colourful, and exuberant compositions that at first glance appear aesthetically simplistic, not seeming to align with any discernible style or movement, but on closer inspection are revealed to be wittily observed and subtly sophisticated meditations on the nature of visual representation itself. While sculpture is a relatively new innovation in the artist’s body of work, introduced within the last five years, Wylie has long been interested in exploring perspectival and compositional strategies other than, and as well as, traditional Renaissance perspective, frequently making numerous iterations of a given theme or motif as a means of advancing her formal investigation. As curator Melissa Blanchflower has described, ‘Wylie ultimately selects the subjects of her paintings for their intrinsic value as images. She is interested in the collision of different forms.… This dispels any pre-conceived hierarchy between genres, subjects and scale. It is composition, colour, form and pace that connect [her works] … not their depicted subjects.’1

Wylie’s sculptures derive from motifs found in her paintings and drawings, a number of which will be presented side by side in this exhibition. Her dense handling of paint and frequent use of collage elements in her paintings lend themselves naturally to the material presence of sculpture. A painting of a boxy 1950s-style car outlined in black paint and filled in with long, feathery brushstrokes becomes a ceramic wall relief composed of stacked, slightly irregular geometric shapes that coalesce into the impression of a car, allowing Wylie to further break down the form. Meanwhile, pirouetting red silhouettes constructed from painted aluminium mirror Wylie’s paintings of a range of female forms that expand upon her ongoing interest in divergent notions of beauty. For the artist, working in three dimensions represents a further act of translation from original image to painting to sculpture that equally brings out the formal qualities of these shapes as well as their symbolic resonances, extending her distinctive visual language to the realm of the viewer”.

Car and girls is open now and runs until February 19th. The gallery is open Tuesday to Saturday, 10am until 6pm, admission is free. David Zwirner Gallery is at 24 Grafton Street, London, W1S 4EZ .To celebrate the exhibition, David Zwirner London will be open until 8PM on Thursday, January 20.

4: #43Leaves – is a month-long piece of work from Sean Worrall, that’s right, blowing my own trumpet again. 43 paintings on found, unwanted recycled material picked up off the street. Material picked up, cleaned up, painted on, and then hung back out there on the street, at carefully selected locations, on screws or nails that are already there, 43 paintings left out there for people to just take should they wish to. The hashtag on the back of the paintings alllows people to join in by posting their own photos. The piece is the latest in an ongoing series of #43Leaves pieces that have happened over the last three or four years, it goes on throughout January, mostly on the streets of London…

5: Notes on Protesting – Marcus Coates, Peter Liversidge & Goshka Macuga at Kate MacGarry Gallery –   21 January – 26 February 2022 – “Notes on Protesting features works by Marcus Coates, Peter Liversidge and Goshka Macuga that explore ideas around demonstration and protest”.

Marcus Coates’ installation Conference for the Birds, (2019) celebrates the lives of the birds depicted by Thomas Bewick in his wood engravings. His book A History of British Birds, first published in 1797, was a comprehensive guide to the appearance and behaviour of birds. Conference for the Birds was originally commissioned by the National Trust and installed in Thomas Bewick’s birthplace – a small cottage at Cherryburn in Northumberland. Seven papier-mâché bird heads, painted with the woodcut markings of Bewick’s depictions form a larger than life group. An audio recording, a discussion between several species including a blackbird, heron and cuckoo, is played by wildlife experts and enthusiasts. Their improvised conversation was recorded during a single round table discussion and explores the birds’ challenges, preoccupations and their relationships with each other as well as with humans.

 The title of the exhibition comes from Peter Liversidge’s installation Notes on Protesting shown at the Whitechapel Gallery in 2015 – the result of a collaboration with primary school children who worked with the artist to compose and write lyrics for protest songs, and design banners and placards. Workshops held over a four month period encouraged the children to express their views on community and the power of a collective voice. One large banner reads ‘Make the people calm, make the city calm’, others protest against homework and a dislike of tight-fitting shoes. A film of the performances at the Whitechapel Gallery on May Day 2014 and on London’s South Bank by the artist and sixty four children aged 8 and 9 from Marion Richardson Primary School in Tower Hamlets is included in the exhibition.

 Goshka Macuga’s smaller-scale tapestries feature fragmented images from her recent tapestry Make Tofu Not War. A human protestor dressed up as a polar bear appears in the woven photographic scene, holding a protest banner ‘It’s Hot In Here’. Set in a clearing of a forest of conifers the image is rich with associations, including allusions to George Orwell’s Animal Farm, 19th-century landscape painting and satirical art that features anthropomorphised animals. A third work, a large-scale drawing made in biro using a machine designed and programmed by Macuga was initially produced in conjunction with her Fourth Plinth Proposal: GONOGO. The image combines two events: the launch of the Delta 4 Rocket in August 2018 and the California River Fires, which spread in August 2018.

Marcus Coates born 1968 in London where he lives and works. Recent exhibitions and events include Planet Love; Climate Care in the Digital Age, Vienna Biennial for Change, Austria, The Animal That Therefore I Am, OCAT Institute Beijing (2020), Ask The Birds, Whitechapel Gallery London, (2018), Doug Aitken’s Station to Station, Barbican Centre, (2016) Dawn Chorus, Fundació Joan Miró, Barcelona, Spain (2015).  Coates was nominated for the 4th Plinth Commission in 2014 and was the recipient of a Paul Hamlyn Award in 2008.

 Peter Liversidge born Lincoln 1973. Lives and works in London. Recent exhibitions and events include Sign Paintings for Belfast, The Mac, Belfast (2021) Out/Exit, Sign Painting Studio (for Allan Kaprow) and Flags for Edinburgh, all at Jupiter Artland, Edinburgh, (2020), Proposals, Lancaster Arts: Peter Scott Gallery, Lancaster, UK (2019), Notes on Protesting, Bonniers Konsthall, Stockholm, (2019), As Sculpture, Southwark Park Gallery, London, (2017), The Bridge: A Choral Piece for Tate Modern, Turbine Hall, Tate Modern, London (2016) Proposals for the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, Ridgefield, USA (2016).

Notes on Protesting

Goshka Macuga born 1967 in Warsaw Poland. Lives and works in London. In 2019 Macuga was commissioned to make a large-scale tapestry for the Museum of Modern Art, New York. In the same year she conceived What Was I?  a post-apocalyptic exhibition at Prada Rong Zhai, Shanghai. Solo exhibitions include In Flux, Museo  de Arte Contemporáneo Castilla y Leon, Spain, 2021, Kestnergesselchaft, Hannover, Germany (2019); Neues Museum, Nüremberg, Germany (2018); Fondazione Prada, Milan, Italy (2016); Schinkel Pavilion, Berlin, Germany (2016); New Museum, New York, USA (2016). Macuga was included in dOCUMENTA 13(2012) and nominated for The Fourth Plinth in 2021 and the Turner Prize in 2008.

Kate MacGarry Gallery is at 27 Old Nichol Street, London, E2 7HR. Admission is free, open Wednesday until Saturday, 11am until 5pm.

Notes on Protesting

Meanwhile while we’re here, another blatant plug, Deflect is now open, it opened last week, it has actually already been viewed just over 25,000 times, Deflect is the latest on-line show from Cultivate, these are scream shots of the show that features over 200 piece of work from 43 caredully selected artists. The exhibition is hosted here on the Organ website and can be explored here

“we’re feeling rather pleased with it, the viewing numbers are exciting again, over 25,000 in the first week, viewers from all over the globe, artists from all over the land and indeed the world. Like we keep saying, we don’t see these on-line shows as replacements to physical exhibitions, but we do see them, especially in this uncomplicated format, as being of positive value. We will be back with physical shows once we can be really sure about the Covid situation, for now, we’re going on with a 2022 programme of on-line shows. Deflect, like all Cultivate on-line shows, will remain open, there are no plans to close any of them, they are all hosted here on the Organ magazine website

We have some screenshots of Deflect but please do go run the slide show and view it all properly, we think the show deserves to be viewed properly.  We’re at work on the next Shows now, Book will be along in February, we’re enjoying these on-line shows and the way they pull people together…”

One thought on “ORGAN: Five Recommended Art Things – Trenton Doyle Hancock at Hales, Sarah Ball at Stephen Friedman Gallery, #43Leaves, Have You Eaten Yet? at Deptford X, Rose Wylie at David Zwirner Gallery, Notes on Protesting, Marcus Coates, Peter Liversidge, Goshka Macuga at Kate MacGarry Gallery, Deflect…

  1. Pingback: ORGAN: Five Recommended Art Things – Benjamin Murphy at Lychee One, Bob and Roberta Smith’s Thamesmead Codex, Take me with you at The Koppel Project Hive, Mary Anne Francis, This is Not an Art Show, Patrick Heron at The Cristea Roberts GalleryR

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