The melting pot of influences that come into making art are more honestly bore in the work of artists in their early stages. Continuing a look at the work in the New Contemporaries exhibition housed in Copperas Hill, these influences and likenesses seem unavoidable but pleasing to interpret (whether correct or not).
Nicola Frimpong’s collection of untitled watercolours, present a violent sexuality through a filter of childlike naivety. At once they recall a darker and more vicious Quentin Blake crossed with the subversive nature of album cover artist Stanley Donwood. The pictures show various forms of sexual activity which increase in dominance and violence juxtaposed weirdly with the style of a child’s sketch. At first the pictures seem whimsical and quaint, only seeming dark and voyeuristic on a closer inspection. In some ways they remind of Patrick Bateman’s doodles found at the end of American Psycho; a dark and necessary release in a deliberately primitive but effective format.
Moving into more picturesque and lighter territory we find the work of Polly Read which is based in photography. The work is instantly refreshing and light, not just because of the work itself but how it is exhibited. The Opium Marsh is a beautiful shot of a landscape, bare but made all the more sublime by its lack of people. It seems to come from a Ben Rivers universe; a world that revels in Mary Shelly’s The Last Man where the landscape is made all the more stunning by its habitation of wildlife, with human traces only being present through objects such as buildings or, in Read’s case phone lines. Flood Light Denim also has a similar feel, though places a singular person in the frame which adds to the previously discussed idea. This picture also experiments with exposure and other effects, emphasising its photographic quality, hinting at its rejection of digitalism (though it’s unclear whether there were any digital aspects present).
Freya Douglas-Morris’ work follows on well from this, seeming to be involved in similar themes though using a different medium. They Visited Twice and It Took Them Many Days show otherworldly vistas through paint and collage. It Took Them Many Days is the most accomplished painting in the exhibition, with a beautiful attention to shade and it not looking too unlike a Roger Dean artwork. The civilisation appears to be a mere few chimneys in the distance of a world of pale but beautiful colours, again empty of people with emphasis on the landscape.
Salome Ghazanfari’s space is a mixture of media and quality. Boxer (Young Marble Giants) is a video piece showcasing the brutality of boxing while opposite it, sits a deformed, vaguely humanoid sculpture. Though the space seems strange with the wall behind the video piece oddly and roughly painted black, the video and sculpture work well together, showing a process and a result using two different mediums.
Jack Brindley brings this article to a close with a small collection of his work. However the main piece to note from his relatively successful collection is his Diagram Construction sculpture. The piece shows a metallic bar housed in a wooden plinth with a tub of some form of DIY material next to it. This piece works well for a number of reasons. The very nature of the building and its “under construction” feel mean that the piece blends in well with its surroundings, with one viewer unsure as to whether the pot of paint/glue was even meant to be there. This adds a humorous edge to the work but a more interesting effect happens when looking at the piece from below. The ceilings of the Copperas Building bare more than a fleeting resemblance to the top half of the work and viewing it in this way allows the piece to build new geometric shapes with the building itself, creating all sorts of interesting effects. Whether this was the artist’s intention is debatable. However, it matters very little when considering how effective the design of the work is in relation to the space it inhabits.
Part 3 coming soon.