Curious New Terrain

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Curious New Terrain

July 20- August 1st 2006

Nolias Gallery,
60 Great Suffolk Street,

Open Monday- Saturday 1pm -6pm

Curated by Alexander Heaton

Curious new terrain is a show of five up and coming new artists- Alexander Heaton, Rob Leech, Nick Nowicki, Kounosuke Kawakami and Tim Phillips. What all five artists have in common is an interest in the languages of paints formality and informality.

The abstraction of landscapes serves as a common starting point. Whether it is the gallery’s own environment and architecture, in Leech’s case using swathes of illusionary paint to break up the space. Or imagined futuristic dystopian worlds where the notions of paint being an accurate representation of its self are questioned in Phillips and Kawakami’s canvases. There is something of the east meets west in their animated backdrops and reverse painted cells.

Nowicki and Heaton sample from the cinematic to create canvases of collaged filmic characters and worlds that may seem real at first. But when one looks closer all is not as it seems. Perceivable space is a construct of disparate photographic sources from the historical nineteen twenties art deco period of Hollywood romance to future primitive, science fiction that coexist beautifully in their own bleak hybrid worlds.
The practice of painting is an end in its self and is all the excuse needed to make work in each of the artist’s cases. Whether they are exquisitely painted or meticulously glazed detail or not even perceivably applied material. Merely an illusion of what the artists hand could have done conceals any evidence of the vast labour within.

Alexander Heaton

These paintings begin as collages, sourced from film and my own experiences whilst travelling to the Pennine Alps in Switzerland and extensively through out the Grampian Mountains. I wanted to actually climb physically and metaphorically within the work. Oil, the materiel of the work is most important to me because within its liquefied qualities I am able to sample the other worldly terrain within pigment responding to experienced or imagined vistas. Such filmic devices are derived from Nutrocker (1983), The Empire Strikes Back (1980), and my own documentation of telecommunication devices and the Cairngorm range of mountains.
My work encapsulates both elements of figuration and classic landscape however figures in my work do not coexist easily within their occupied space. Images are collaged together and I pull layers and surfaces of clippings apart and realign them in more exciting ways. This serves to create explosions and events that never existed in such states on celluloid in their original context. The question arises which is more real, is the image itself being scored and reconfigured or what it is made of, paint in new uncomfortable and sometimes ugly states?
Mechanical structures pervade my sublime scenery. Such juxtapositions are born out of an interest to non fine art visual languages such as filmic matte painting, fantasy art, Johnny Bad hair paintings of Phil Hale and miniature model stop motion sequences. My paintings borrow much of their feeling from this region. Here I swap classic filmic events for acts of my own imagination. These arise from my own inclinations leading to something totally different taking the place of remembered animated figurations. The pictures I create are static, yet they suggest the motion that went into creating them. What is left is only a stationary testament of the idea behind it, which couldn’t happen in the real world. This is where my interest in painting lies. Dreaming anything up and playing on viewers own preconceptions. Working from highly rendered sections through to abstracted marks I can expose the underscore of a painting. In doing this I want to challenge definitions of reality and seduction in a painting.

Kounosuke Kawakami

The ever-changing landscape is the focus of my work; I am aiming to portray the drama of natural disasters and to describe the beautiful relationship that can exist between nature and the technological world. I create imaginary landscapes in which I hope to draw the viewer in and to consider the images that I have created.
Whilst growing up in Japan I was surrounded by the virtual world of video games and animation. From these experiences I want to create an imagined world where the boundaries begin to blur and distinctions between ugliness and beauty are mixed up. I want my viewer to experience the anxiety and drama that this upturned world produces.
I am interested in the juxtaposition of the artificial and nature, such as the satellites, gas tanks and damns which mankind has placed in to nature. I make reference to the marvel, menace and impact of nature, because I want the viewer to feel the impact of these natural dramas.
I hope to make large contrasts by using different materials and creating collage. So I use various materials and tools such as wax, resin, acrylic mediums and airbrush to create tension within the canvas. At this moment my main concern is to ensure that the figures are not scattered, I want figures to interact with each other.
My work is based on digital-analogical processes. I collect images from, films, the Internet, my own drawings. I create a collage of these images to simulate the image I want to create before starting my actual painting.

Nick Nowicki

On a retro-tinted ground, four fictional characters cohabit paintings reminiscent of the escapist wonderlands that make their first appearances in 1930s Hollywood films such as the Flash Gordon/Buck Rogers series and The Wizard of Oz. Art deco patterns are like artefacts that survive from the '30s forming new painterly terrains, influenced by ancient Chinese and Persian landscape traditions. Moving on from their origin, they retain a flavour of the era from which they come, but are transformed into something strange. The viewer experiences the oddness of awakening in another time period or alternate dimension. Uncertainty as to how the society operates in these new 'deco-scapes', and the patterns of behaviour by which its inhabitants survive, draws the viewer into these otherworldly paintings where they are invited to speculate on the unfolding events involving pattern, people and 'device'. The device is a mysterious character incorporating elements from the Machine Age, art deco design and the organic. The human characters are fictitious actors in '30s Hollywood, quoted from photographs in movie magazines of the time. They are Abigail Lantern (long hair, wears slacks), Trip Monahan (spiky hair, casual attire), Sabrina Ray (shorter hair, skirt) and Lincoln Silver (floppy fringe, suit).

Rob Leech

Where the floor based paintings initially appear solid, mechanical, un-expressive and controlled, and where they cut into and are reflective of a space, my brushstroke pieces contrast these two elements in that they appear fluid, show gesture, and in how they pin down the area in which they are placed. The brushstrokes are perceived to be painted directly on to the given surface, yet these material elements of the installations that form my second body of work are in fact malleable objects that begin life in the studio. Here, I load a brush full of acrylic paint and drag it down 6ft of sign writers’ vinyl, introducing my pre-determined colours during the course of this one single action. When dry, there is then an initial editing process of deciding which, and what parts of each brush stroke to use, this then gives me a variety of portable ready made components to a painting, which can be stuck down on to surfaces and supports at my will. Ideas for this series were born out of a desire to use certain fundamental “painterly” properties of paint, a love for the way paint twists, turns and flows and how the colour mixes. But at the same, I wanted procedure by which I could exert a higher degree of control to certain aspects of a brushstroke, and to dispense of any un-wanted factors. I soon realised that what I produced was far more interesting when moved away from the canvas and that I can explore, by alternative means, some of the ideas that already interested me in the development of my floor pieces. A piece like “Fence” for example is made up of abstract components but is in its self representational. “Fence” runs along the boundaries of an architectural space while also disrupting the order and limits of the given physical area, suggesting a space beyond. In my most recent pieces I have installed the brushstrokes in impossible abstract formations, playing with and dissolving ideas of both a fixed space and a fixed state, with the brushstrokes appearing as if they are jumping in and out of the surface that they are stuck to. The actual place that the work is to be situated is becoming increasingly significant to my practice. In pieces such a “Dafunk (see you on the other side)” I have enjoyed the idea of being able to animate the architecture of a space; I have become interested in placing the work in areas that are often overlooked and passed by, re-activating them, allowing us to interact with another special dimension.

Tim Phillips

tim@monorex.com / 0790325465

Phillips Produces paintings based on the techniques of Japanese anime and Disney reverse cell animation. This retro technique was pioneered in the post war era and follows a tradition started by pioneers such as Rex Avery and Hayo Miyasaki. Inspiration is drawn from such films as Laputa Castle in the Sky and Akira. Paint work is concealed on a backdrop of pre drawn organic structures that conceal the hand of the artist and in turn expose something that is beautiful and ugly at the same moment.