Friday, December 01, 2006

Horrah for the Artistic 30's

Been in Hong Kong... of which more shortly, but meant to post about Bloomberg's 'New Contempories', in Club Row before I went and ran out of time.

I loved Andrea Buttner's large format donkey piece, actually a woodcut made up of ten large sheets. I like the quality of woodcut printing and I've never seen it on this scale before. I imagine the sheets were enlarged up but I like to think they are actual size prints rolled off enormous inky 3'x2' planks following months of hard-won carving.

I also enjoyed the corner installation of Henrietta Simpson's meticulous and haunting suburban houses and roads 'Between Heaven and Hell in Suburbia'. Domestic size oils in gilt frames. All fake half-timbering and picket fences with no sign of life, not even a twitching curtain. They look like cul-de-sacs in Surrey and are oddly unsettling. They reminded me of my home town and I imagine probably work on that level with most people; the work could even be called 'A Thousand County Towns'. They are various although similar sizes and are hung in a corner, like a small gallery of small-town depression.

My fave was Neil McNally who is showing a row of very affecting watercolour studies of gas oven deaths and lonely hangings. There's very little information on Neil on the Bloomberg site, other than his date of birth (1971) and that he left his BA at Goldsmiths in 2005. Presumably he spent a decade or so doing something else prior to his BA but it's none of our business and I like that approach. It underlines the mysterious nature of his work. In fact, while I'm on the subject I like people who resist traditional biographical detailing full-stop... the work's the thing. I would love to go and see these again. All the suicides are named, but we're not told anything further. Quite right too.

All my favourites were in their mid-30's. I find this happens quite a lot at the moment. I respond to the work before knowing how old the artist is though so I'm not being drawn in artificially. I do think it is just something about older artists (or rather not-so-young young ones) having hammered away for so much longer that they have worked up a more original or genuine way to speak about the world. It's on until 20th December.