Signifiance: Painting Beyond Borders

Exhibition:        June 11 – July 10

Times:              Friday, Saturday, Sunday, 12 – 6 

Preview: Saturday 11 June 12-8pm

Artists:           John Bunker, John Chilver, Phil Frankland, Gunther Herbst,

Peter Lamb, Charley Peters, Simon Pike, Jessica Power,

Michael Stubbs, Mark wright    

  

Gunter Herbst ‘Good Hope’ 2022 acrylic on plywood.

Coleman Project Space is delighted to become the temporary London home of ‘Signifiance: Painting Beyond Borders’, curated by John Bunker and Michael Stubbs.

This group exhibition of diverse approaches in British painting was originally conceived for The Cornerstone Gallery, Liverpool Hope University. It reflects the myriad ways artists are currently pushing at and exploring the boundaries between old and new media; our Modernist understanding of painting as a practice and the contemporary critical discourse that attempts to define it, or break it down. 

Feminist philosopher Julia Kristeva coined the term ‘Signifiance’ in order to address the intimate relations between human subjectivity and language. But might the melding of the terms ‘signification’ and ‘defiance’ be co-opted to explore a new kind of agency for the medium within our technologically expanded, 21st Century image culture? 

The contemporary validity of painting, regularly contested whenever a new visual medium or platform comes into focus, is asserted here through the adoption of highly specific visual devices. Compositional divisions, overlapped motifs, optical moments of slippage or elision foreground a hybridisation of painterly languages across the interpretive spectrum. 

All here appear mindful of the contextual significance of the visual and conceptual symbology and strategies at their disposal. Through their treatment of such we are asked to consider how the physical properties of the picture plane, as an historically loaded – constructed or deconstructed – space might be used to communicate the changing state of how we receive and digest visual information.

While some artists use paint to evoke the sense of an analogue, physical disruption, others cast indexical marks or evidence of the body’s performative actions against digital representations. This show asks us to re-imagine the painted surface as a place of ‘Signifiance’ – a site of associatively unstable signifying chains that are relentlessly reconfigured and reconstructed with new, and defiant formulations.

John Bunker works with print media, defunct advertising remnants and other urban detritus gleaned from city streets. He combines these elements with more traditional mediums to produce exquisite yet disquieting wall based assemblages. They are built up of internal relations of incongruous shaped parts to create a new whole without use of a stretcher or traditional support or surface. Working with extreme changes in scale and materials, Bunker’s free reining abstractions channel both a brutal materiality and elegant formal relations creating illusive yet potent images. http://www.foldgallery.com/artist/john-bunker/

John Chilver’s artwork and writing coalesce around problems of agency. These problems lead him to philosophies of the event and questions of how ‘the new’ appears at all. Chilver’s artwork operates mostly as para-painting. In various guises, it entertains an obsession with line and its modalities: as corridor, path, thread, vector; as bar, limb, stump; as edge; as axis; as cut. These then enable the works to generate semantic modalities such as connectedness/ separateness, movement/ simultaneity, and containment/ non-containment. http://www.xero-kline- coma.com/archive/JohnChilver/JohnChilver.html

Simon Pike’s work utilizes a disparate and fractured array of content sourced online. This content is then digitally manipulated and transferred to panel or canvas in a combination of layers of paint, ink and medium with varying degrees of transparency which result in a high gloss, glass like surface reminiscent of the screen. As layers of content build, individual elements and meanings become obscured and confused at the service of a coherent aestheticised whole. These works explore the fractured and fluid temporalities, the collisions and juxtapositions of subjects and the mix of virtual and real in digital culture.

Phil Frankland’s practice explores the tension between the quickness of manipulating collage and the gestation period which painting requires. The iterative development of his practice allows ideas to gestate and be exposed. Although ultimately playful in material and spontaneous in appearance, these paintings and collages are often slow moving and subjected to various transitions along the way to more ‘finished’ states. https://www.philfrankland.co.uk

Gunther Herbst’s painterly precision is used critically to assign ‘otherness’ to the instructiveness of signs. There is a flip side to its address, just like the word ‘otherness’ no longer assigns the state of being the other. Herbst understands this more than most. After his relocation to Europe, the history of his native South Africa took on an altogether different identity that informed his painterly practice through different visual, iconographical and contextual histories and languages. http://www.contemporaryartsociety.org/artist-members/gunther-herbst/

Peter Lamb combines scaled-up photographs of his well-worn ‘painterly’ studio floor with painted gestural overlays. The physical, gestural paint marks contradict the representational space of the photograph. A paradoxical reading of a vertiginous shot of the flat floor, re-presented on the wall and then painted upon as if it were a regular wall-based painting, provides an optical double-take that positions the viewer in an impossible space. Lamb questions the seeming differences between the two mediums whilst simultaneously disorientating his audience. https://www.peterlamb.org

Charley Peters work is concerned with the spatial potential of the painted surface, on which she applies subtle variations in colour, tone and scale to construct illusionary light and structural depth. Starting from an interest in the legacy of hard edged abstraction, her work considers the manifestation of painterly language in the context of contemporary media, where viewers experience multitudinous visual information in quick succession, often dematerialised and seen on screens. https://charleypeters.com

Jessica Power’s practice explores deconstructed forms of language using reactionary, improvised, process lead mark making. She uses a symbolic visual language inspired by ancient sculpture, images of metamorphosis and classical content that sits in opposition to the experimental processes of her practice. The resulting collaged like paintings hope to provoke a dialogue of conflict between imagery and materiality. https://jesspowerart.squarespace.com/

Michael Stubbs pours household eggshell, gloss paints and tinted floor varnishes over ready-made adhesive stencils, peels these off when dry and repeats the process again and again to develop both an optical and material layering effect. The flatness of the repeated surfaces (which resembles the flat digital screen) offers a heady mix of opaque and transparent planes. These contrastingly delicate and bold passages, which playfully cross-reference the genres of pop and abstraction, deliriously reveal themselves in all their sensualist glory. https://www.michaelstubbs.org

Mark Wright’s paintings are informed by the legacy of historical lyrical abstraction and its engagement with images sourced from organic structures and landscape. In his work, mediated images transformed by the digital and embodied within the screen, are then used as a focal point for exploring painterly elements, including surface, facture and gesture. These pictorial and material qualities enable Wright to fuse visual elements identified within different periods of painting ranging from the neo-romantic to the post-digital. https://www.jamesfreemangallery.com/artist/mark- wright

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