Caitlin Keogh, Running Doggerel at The Approach, East London – Back to the Approach, as fashionably aloof as they might be up there, I do like the Approach, dubious stairs and everything else. There’s been some really good shows in their East London space over the last couple of years, never predictable, almost always rather good, sometimes exceptionally good, sometimes rather daring. Last Thursday night Caitlin Keogh’s solo show, Running Doggerel, opened.
To reframe is to represent that which I have seen… to represent the process by which vision projects and transforms itself, to engage in the struggle to discover that which is absent, obscured from our vision, through an encounter with that which is manifest, given – Sarah Charlesworth
This is the second solo exhibition by Caitlin Keogh at the gallery. there’s a group of twelve new paintings that could be interpreted as a long, frieze-like collage, you kind of find yourself reading it like you would a comic book, or attempting to, it is initially a hard one to read. Well, no, not hard but there are many ways to try and read it as you stand there in the middle of room almost surrounded by eleven of the twelve rather large pieces (why is the twelfth in the other room?). Apparently Keogh’s source material consists of “thousands of art museum postcards, online search results, phone photos, and monograph reproductions. The collage is composed intuitively, of things loosely adhered and continuously moved during the process of translating into paint. Overall, the emphasis is on the studio as the site of reflection and production, rather than the materials’ narrative or historical importance. The paintings can be viewed as one large composition, discrete units, or smaller series”.
The title Running Doggerel plays on a “flexible mode of poetry made of uneven rhyming schemes, often associated with nursery rhymes and simple, common words”. The paintings are big, bold, bold would be a key word here, this is a bold exhibition, bold pieces, great conversations, loose rhymes, several rhymes at once? Do you read it left to right? I like it, I like the flow, I like that something on the seventh painting might demand you go back to the second just to check something (did she paint them all at the same time? One after the other or actually together at once?)
“Keogh’s visual composition often loosely rhymes (a hand of a broken Roman statue shadowed nearby with the waving hand in a Picabia illustration, for example) and the works’ cadence is established by things clustering together and drifting apart. Much of the imagery comes from familiar sources in the artist’s oeuvre, such as medieval marginalia, the 19th century aesthetic movement, fragmented classical statuary, Surrealist illustration, and 20th century anatomical diagrams; some motifs have appeared in Keogh’s previous paintings. The group of Correspondence Paintings feature postcards purchased at art museums or mailed to her from her friend and former art history teacher, M. Dorsch, tethered with passementerie into a thematic but modular painting object”.
So we’re upstairs above the pub that shares a name with nice big gallery space, an excellent space in terms of viewing art, we shouldn’t take these things for granted, it would be so easy to take exhibitions and galleries like this for granted. Something else that could be taken for granted as you try to read Caitlin Keogh’s paintings, is her positive use of colour, her bold areas of colour, her subtle use of colour, her visual patterns. Some of it feels playful, almost comic book, almost pop art, it feels wonderfully intuitive and yes, some of it might be a little unsettling (that’s no bad thing). To put your finger on a timeline here really is difficult (again no bad thing), images from all over the place, very much for now though, a narrative for now and another recommended art exhibition to go check out if you have time
The Approach is found on the first floor above the pub, 47 Approach Road, Bethnal Green, London E2 9LY, Access to the gallery via The Approach Tavern pub, there’s a brown door at the end of the left side of the bar that the staff may or may not feel like pointing out to you. Gallery open: Wednesday to Saturday (someplaces say Tuesday) 12–6pm or by appointment,