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Beers.Lambert: Contemporary Visions - 17 Aug 2012 to 30 Sept 2012

Current Exhibition

17 Aug 2012 to 30 Sept 2012
Hours : wed - sun, 12 - 6
Beers.Lambert Contemporary Art
1 Baldwin Street
United Kingdom
T: +44 078 1703 1766

Artists in this exhibition: Matthew Allen, Gigi Cifali, Ronin Cho, Zavier Ellis, Rebecca Griffiths, Lindsay Mapes, Nigel Massey, Renato & Roberto Miaz, John Ryan, Fleur Van Dodewaard

Contemporary Visions

16th August 2012 - 30th September 2012

Contemporary Visions is the first group exhibition at the newly relocated Beers.Lambert Contemporary in its new premises near Old Street Station. The exhibition presents 10 contemporary international artists, (selected from an pool of nearly 1800 applicants worldwide,) who each question the destability of the image and of presence. The collective point of departure for each of the artists is precisely how a vision of reality becomes translated through the artistic frame of reference. The selected artists work in all media and within all genres of art - from figurative to abstract and even conceptual, each being selected for an artistic practice that somehow perceives reality as one that has been fragmented, reconstructed, and destabilized.

Certainly the title Contemporary Visions refers (at least poetically) to that forward vision which might present some transcendent answers for our present existence - a type of artwork (figuratively speaking, of course) as self-fulfilling prophecy in and of itself. Perhaps more literally, it suggests a desire for tomorrow's art to achieve that vision which remains ceaselessly ahead of the curve, referring to the very acts and objectives of the artists themselves, as the very nature of 'contemporary art' suggests an art that looks toward the future, identifying and successfully embodying that which is yet to come - that which today remains indefinable. Therefore the exhibition takes as its origin the notion that perception and perspective is subjective, and dependent on experience and a fictional recreation of that perceived experience. The unifying conceptual thread that runs throughout the exhibition appears to call forward to some anxiety toward an Orwellian future - yet one that very consciously presents itself as more Logan's Run than Blade Runner.

One might prematurely reflect upon this collection of work by stating the exhibition is conceived as a vision of 'tomorrow', however in order to avoid the oversimplified connotations therein, the exhibition remains about how one sees and how one frames the object for receipt of the viewer. Fleur van Dodewaard's 'frames of frames within frames' operate very consciously like photographic Russian-dolls: like a second-party recounting a tragic accident which somehow loses gravitas with each retelling, there remains a phantom of some not-so-distant origin that exists lurking beneath van Dodewaard's careful photographic mise-en-scene.

Still, there remains a lighthearted play between the intention of these artists and the execution, presentation, and interplay of the works. Indeed the works appear to emanate a view of a dystopian society, but this is a view masquerading in utopian hues. Matthew Allen's subversively cheerful tone-on-tone paintings come to mind, like candy-colored epitaphs in bubble-gum pinks and sky blues, suggesting a depth of meaning lurking beneath the surface of the canvas that reveals its true melancholy with prolonged viewing. John Ryan’s exploration of perception delves into the purely material, in which paint becomes topographic, sculptural, and utterly anthropomorphic. Swaths of metallic oil paint are playful in Lindsay Mapes' DIY-style paintings, arriving in garish neons, gold, and silvers, laden atop the canvas in purposeful heaps like lunar astro-turf; but the vision here is also gloriously (and metallically) carnal, with Rebecca Griffith's Twin Turbo apropos for a contemporary fossil of urbanity seemingly lifted from Crash, JG Ballard's pessimistic take on consumerism and sexuality. For Griffiths, it appears that inner turmoil and consumerist spectacle have collided in some monstrous, albeit slickly sensuous amalgam of forms. Nigel Massey's neat, plexi-glass encased displays stand like solitary tomes self-consciously recalling the West's search for mysticism through a (mis)appropriation of Asian-culture, perhaps through its ubiquity in contemporary decor alongside what might appear to be specimens encased from 'the homeless', (with media including ink-soiled blankets, chipboard, and brooms), the entire package seems practically ripe for the gaze of the museum visitor from the future to consider, however accurate or not, scenarios of privileged 21st century living.

Perhaps Gigi Cifali best offers a tranquil restaging of our world - reframed in cameo form, these photographs from the Vesuvian landscape take on a strikingly contemporary newness. Their presentation as landscapes that have been cut into ‘portholes’ serves to accentuate the instability of the image and the artist’s unreliability in presenting the imagery for the viewer. Contemporary perceptions of our world - endlessly de-contextualized and re-contextualized - become awash in a Baudrillardian stream of thought, an endless array of images that, through reproduction, begin to lose any particular individuality. Zavier Ellis’ mixed-media works are presented like monumental palimpsests of a dystopian urbanity, like relics from some imagined past or not-so-distant future, a contemporary fragment of urban art and existence. It might be Roberto and Renato Miaz's exceptionally skillful paintings that could - in one respect - seem to paraphrase this ideology, where still-frames and fragments of memory, faces, and specifics become blurred - not quite out of reach but never fully attained.

At long last it is the disconnect between reality and fantasy where the works find their strongest thematic strain; here the vision of a future reality is cyclical, and haunting: Ronin Cho's kinetic sculpture, Fair Idle, features the detached arm of a mannequin that cyclically and endlessly scoops handfuls of sand, only to pause as the sand slips through the cyborg's fingers, before returning to the pool of sand again and again. It is a futile act, repeated out of preconditioning and the inability to defy its apparent purpose. What Cho seems to critique with this piece is mirrored in the collective voice from the entire exhibition: one where the perfunctory act and assumed view are both refuted, challenged, and called into review; a new perspective aware of its entrapments, and optimistic for tomorrow, whatever that vision may hold.

The artists in Contemporary Visions are:
Matthew Allen - AUSTRALIA
Gigi Cifali - ITALY
Zavier Ellis - UK
Rebecca Griffiths - UK
Lindsay Mapes - USA
Nigel Massey - UK
Renato & Roberto Miaz - ITALY
John Ryan - IRELAND
Fleur Van Dodewaard - NETHERLANDS

Beers Lambert Contemporary Art

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