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A letter from an applicant:
Thu, 24 Jan 2008 11:15:46 +0530
Every time a regret letter arrives, I feel just a little despondent, specially if the wait had been long. This time luckily, the wait has been really short, giving me little time to fantasize about my time at Wardlow. Thank you for your email. I truly appreciate it. On the Wardlow website I already had the impression that you were very open and attentive towards the artists applying. Still, I did not expect an answer as detailed and kind as yours.
Wishing you and the selected artists a very enriching residency.
Graham Day Guerra at Wardlow Studio, July 10 2008
Guerra uses software to create 3d models of conglomerate figures resumbling some combination of a Bellmer doll and a Chapman brothers' sculpture. These models form the basis for skillfully executed drawings.
Multi limbed figures hover above sports stadia. These hybrid creatures have superbly toned, athletic bodies. They rise into the air - an ascension - their forms picked out by banks of flood lighting and observed by an implied crowd in unseen grandstands. This is a secular ascension, no less fantastic for that. It is impossible to view the transfiguration of athletic bodies into something greater than a mortal without thinking about Riefenstahl and the 1936 olympics. The work abounds with historical reference. Saluting hands allude to David's Oath of the Horatii and the Tennis Court oath, and the overall compostion draws on various paintings of the Ascension, and most particularly Raphael's last masterpice, the Transfiguration.
Graham Day Guerra, "Alpha and omega", 2008, charcoal and graphite on paper, 44x 57"
Elsewhere, skulls are fused and morphed into some kind of eye teasing shape from Riemannian gemometry. Jake Chapman, discussing the neurologist Paul Mobius characterised his ideas thus: "Using the topographical figure of the mobius strip [Mobius] described the cutaneous and subcutaneous membranes circulating the body as a single continuous plane. While this spatiality dissolves the interiority and the exteriority it also democratizes the anatomy thereby disinvesting the brain of its sovereignty." In Guerra's drawings, the mind is similarly disenfranchised, taking second place to the interlocking complexities of the topography of the physical material, the bone of the skull.
Guerra is based in New York and is currently about 6 weeks into a 3 month residency at Wardlow studios. Wardlow studios will be showing Guerra's work again in a couple of months. Stay tuned for details.
May 1, 2007
Untitled Show at Wardlow Studio
4 Wood St, Fitzroy
A one night only show at Wardlow Studio proved to be one of the more interesting I have seen this year. Slattery's work in particular is a bit of a revelation.
The weakest part of this show was a series of drawings by Noynay. These drawings were faintly surreal but lacking the psychological punch that makes surrealism interesting. The effect was reminiscent of the sort of random connections of images in high-school doodlings. Noynay is a fine designer and his design work is much more interesting than the drawings presented here.
Katie Breckon presented an installation including drawings of missing children and various objects associated with crime scenes. The installation was a collection of old materials and objects presented in a way that suggests but ultimately resists construction of a narrative. That is quite pleasing in an art work - so much better to have the meaning just beyond one's grasp than firmly within it. This is similar to the way that an unsolved crime presents evidence without conclusion. Interestingly, on the night the works were crawling with flying termites. This was so much in keeping with the work that I was sure that the artist had somehow contrived a method to train the termites to infest the installation. It was happy accident, though none the less effective for that.
Slattery has shown two large watercolours of dark pop-gothic imagery. The skill demonstrated in these images is so fine that they are utterly beguiling. In addition, he has shown a major work documenting a trip to Russia. The work includes drawings, watercolours and photographs mounted hastily and haphazardly on the wall. The photographs are not polished and are presented as standard holiday snaps. The imagery is rough and raw, rather than picturesque. Also mounted are small watercolours, in the same scale as the snaps, and clearly painted from the same suite of photographs. These tiny paintings are extraordinary expositions of painterly skill. It took careful examination to pick the snaps from the paintings. Jackson is working hard to eliminate the evidence of himself from his work. The futility of this exercise is poignant - to paint so precisely that the paintings are almost exact facsimiles of the rather rough photographs which are their subject. This act underlines the futility of art in general - the imperfection of communication between humans. The circularity of representation - after all that work, do we just end up where we started? But the intensity of the work is phenomenal - the time and the skill involved in making the paintings is palpable.
The photographs have a quality which suggests either an accidental or unauthorised documentation of an unpleasant or secret subject - an intrusive intimacy (naked women apparently unaware of the photographer) or a moment of aggression or injury (a human thumb in a wolf's mouth). The apparent time taken over the manual reproduction of these photographs suggests a transgression on the part of the artist in staring at something forbidden and treating it as a subject worthy of prolonged consideration and reworking. The viewer is implicated in this transgression by the extra care in viewing necessary to distinguish the paintings from the photographs. The determinedness of the transgression and the futility of these small, subtle highly skilled paintings combine to produce a moment of near sublime beauty.
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