Sunday, 9 May 2010


Citizen, curated by Sam Aldridge, Andrew Cooper, Kim Fielding and Neil Jeffries
tactileBOSCH Studios, Llandaff North, Cardiff.
Until 25 May (open Wed – Sat 12 to 5pm or by appointment – 07860 558169)
** overall / **** for blog-featured artists (see below)
tactileBOSCH (tB) rolled out the red carpet for the 1 May preview night of their drawing, painting and print show Citizen on the first bank holiday weekend of this month. The sprawling, artist-led space in Llandaff has become renowned for openings full of provocative performance art and installations where literally anything could happen. Once a year they decide to drop a dimension and put a call out for artists working in two dimensions to submit work for a show. Citizen is their annual painting, print and drawing showcase, and the naturally lit space they offer is not the traditional white-wall gallery venue many of the artists would have imagined when developing their work. Instead, the curators have explored how they can ‘create a new and unique way to view each piece.’
tB explain why they chose to curate a show in these three mediums: ‘Painting, Printmaking and Drawing has developed dramatically over the last century as artists continually redefine and reinterpret the three mediums, exercising new approaches to form and subject matter that in turn breeds fresh stylistic interpretation. This continued evolution has meant that these three age-old mediums are as relevant as ever, with there now existing almost as many aesthetic styles and conceptual approaches as there are practitioners.’ The result of the call out is a neat, sparsely populated show of 23 artists who take a range of different styles and approaches to these three forms, and exhibits established international artists alongside emerging local talent. I’ll pick out a few favourites for you:
  1. Richard Monahan: the Swansea-based artist was the recipient of the Sir Leslie Joseph Young Artist Award in 2005 for his works combining drawing and painting. Now a PhD student at Swansea Metropolitan, he has submitted the large scale Wallpaper composition in pink, part of a wider body of work concerned with the nature of repetition, to the show. The piece continues earlier themes in the artist’s work concerned with humanity and existential angst. Images of a variety of characters involved in a series of courtships repeat through the piece. Linking these scenes are lines from the final chapter of an 18th Century romantic novel. The artist explains that this work was made ‘firstly to question our claims to a notion of civilisation. Secondly, to present the idea that nothing is guaranteed not to change.’
  2. John Abel: This Cardiff young artist first came to my attention with his recent prolific solo show at Elysium Gallery (Take 1) at the tail-end of last year. Here he shows some of his dark and quirky prints exploring love, lust and ‘the human condition’ charged with ‘a sense of … fear, and death, in a sense of pessimism or even nihilism’ along with a large pinch of gallows humour.
  3. Jonathan Powell: A director of Swansea’s Elysium Gallery, Jonathan is also currently studying towards and MA at Swansea Met. Also showing work as part of the grid57 show in Pontardawe, here he also offers a series of Heads, this time paintings in thick slicks of bright brush strokes. A comment on the dysfunctional species he feels humans have become. A definite One To Watch.
  4. Freya Dooley: The Wales-based artist Freya Dooley’s  expressive life-size charcoal nudes, based in the same gallery room as Monahan’s piece, impress. Dooley concerns herself with the physicality of the mark – the relationship between artist and object and the ‘trace’ of human touch.
  5. Chris Evans: Currently studying Fine Art, through Performance, the artist grumps out at the news that the MAP (time-based/performance) is to be discontinued at UWIC from the end of this academic year by turning himself into a human paintbrush for the night’s only art performance Jackson Bollocks. Suspended from the ceiling his hair made green paint spread across the floor: ‘I have recently been told by the Academic Naunce Nutjobs that my course area will disintegrate at the end of the year. Therefore I have decided to become a human paintbrush.’ Well, you would, wouldn’t you?     
I am very disappointed to say that little else appeals in the show, quite unusual for me with tB events, but I’d say it is worth a hop along to the vast gallery space to view the above alone, so make like a frog and get your hop on.

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