ART SHOW REVIEWS

EB&Flow’s She Doesn’t Care &

The Square Tower’s Mayfly Festival

Sweet Toof, ‘Untitled’ (2012) Wall painting. Courtesy the artist and EB&Flow Gallery

Feminism has now become synonymous with protests known as SlutWalks, The Times columnist turned feminist biographer Caitlin Moran and the all female art show Selling Sex. But where does that leave men? She Doesn’t Care is an all male exhibition at EB&Flow Gallery and its tagline ‘male painters not impressing a woman’ brings the male voice back into the feminist debate.

“The exhibition is not a reaction against feminism, it is an accompaniment to such progressive and practical feminism,” curator Liam Newnham says. Encapsulating this idea beautifully is Birdhouse Theory by Wayne Horse. Horse, who calls himself the ‘leading provider of uncomfortable silence, awkward moments and public embarrassment of all kinds’, has built a birdhouse wallpapered with pornography. At first glance it looks like something a shrunken Beetlejuice would visit for kicks. When you watch the ‘making of’, the macho elements become self-aware. One minute the women in the porn images are talking like South Park characters, the next the artist is explaining that when human beings were expelled from paradise, birds were the non-domesticated creatures that stayed closest to us. Horse’s aim is to get birds used to seeing the naked human body, presumably so that our sins are forgiven, and we can all return to Eden.

“I’m not for a moment imagining that feminism has ended misogyny,” Newnham says “but I certainly feel different from historical men I have read about, and some of the work that men are producing now is certainly different from work made by men fifty years ago.”

Tek 33, ‘The gallery are a bit pissed off that you tagged the front door‘. Spray paint on wood and glass. Courtesy the artist and EB&Flow Gallery

Adam Christensen’s 493 Pink Triangles was worn by the artist during one of his drag shows. His drag queen name at Glastonbury was ‘Madam’ though he also performs as ‘De Dangé Läme’ (pronounced ‘dedans je l’aime’).  Christensen’s dress is accompanied by an erotic story and he has given the viewer a second short story in the show booklet to take home. The booklet isn’t a catalogue but an attempt to showcase the artists’ wider practice. As Newnham says, he finds sale catalogues redundant after a show: “Here was an opportunity to produce something which, although still essentially useless, can happily maintain its uselessness, integrally, independent of an event external to itself.”

Gallery Director Nathan Engelbrecht smiles as he talks about 493 Pink Triangles “I believe this was the dress he wore in a performance when he met Liam, the curator, for the first time.” He also seems enchanted by the gloriously huge, gloss-painted Maquette for “This one goes out to all my dead homies” by Ben Cavers. “Boys like to make forts, to build stuff, it’s messy, it’s getting in there.” There is a subdued contribution from Barry Reigate who is known for his orgiastic cartoon paintings at the Saatchi Gallery. Reigate’s Untitled looks like a blackboard with <-30cm-> chalked across it: “That one is about measuring your willy,” Engelbrecht laughs. And of the 1000cm long block printing by Cedar Lewisohn She Doesn’t Care (see image) he says “this one was made specifically for this show and named after it”.

A criticism of She Doesn’t Care is that the artworks would be more interactive in a living context:  the bird house nailed to a tree, the costume on stage and Cavers’ gloss painted sculptor in an artist studio dripping with paint. Also Jonathan Kipps’ Flag and Run’s 3 Paper Fan are both dwarfed by huge artworks making them seem flimsy. “I have tried to cover as much ground as possible,” Newnham explains, “to not end up with a show propped up by an easy visual critical harmony.”

https://tessaditner.files.wordpress.com/2019/07/c04ee-bencaversmaquetteforthisonegoesouttoallthedeadhomies2012householdmaterialsglosspaintandwoodcourtesyoftheartistandebampflowgallery.jpg
Ben Cavers, Maquette for “This one goes out to all the dead homies” (2012)

House hold materials, gloss paint and wood. Courtesy the Artist and EB&Flow

A favourite aspect of this show is the inclusion of street art. In the basement you get to walk into someone’s mouth and pretend to be a Corn Flake courtesy of Sweet Toof’s Untitled. His fun trademark teeth and gums can be spotted painted on buildings in New York and London and in the odd lift. Another street artist Tek 33, has tagged the front of the gallery in The gallery are a bit pissed off that you tagged the front door, which is a clever way to wrap the building in with the work. “We had the same tag on the shutters,” Engelbrecht says, not smiling for the first time. “But within twenty four hours the council had removed it.” It seems that feminism can change women and even change men, but there are some things it can’t change.

She Doesn’t Care is on at EB&Flow Gallery, 77 Leonard Street, London, EC2A 4QS Reviewed for aqnb.com: http://www.aqnb.com/2012/04/11/she-doesnt-care-exhibition-ebflow-gallery-review/

Other art reviews by Tessa Ditner:

Satellite String, Bertille Bak at Nettie Horn:
http://www.aqnb.com/2012/05/16/satellite-string/
Remote Control at ICA:
http://www.aqnb.com/2012/04/18/remote-control-ica-exhibition-review/

(aqnb is a digital guide for transdisciplinarity, reviewing the city subcultures we live in, from an outsider’s perspective: www.aqnb.com )

ART FESTIVAL: Techno-insects, fish heads, riot police and skinny dipping… Mayfly Festival at The Square Tower

 

Simon Whitcomb Southsea Pier

I’ve come to the Mayfly Festival in Portsmouth’s Square Tower to check out the latest on the art scene and (hopefully) buy a piece of art. I’m excited to meet Julie Chappell (facebook.com/pages/Julie-Alice-Chappell-Artist) whose miniature world are made from discarded objects and especially computer parts. She works with sci-fi narrative and builds dragonflies and insects out of game boys, electronics and the wings are out of thin sheets of lost laptops. I tell her that on first glance her pieces seem like lab insects not computer parts. “People don’t notice,” she admits. Her work is inspired by the Alien films. “I make scenes which I photograph, see here,” she smiled “they are trying to integrate with humans in my world. Aliens has found a pet! What I love about the Alien movies is that there are animals in them and the aliens don’t hurt them, whereas humans do horrible things.” Julie is fascinated by this sci-fi vision of the natural world. “Technology has been made on purpose to run out. This is an imagined future where we have left our e-waste behind.” Her narrative reminded me of Studio Ghibli’s Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind with creatures living in all sorts of brilliant futuristic shapes.

One of Julie Chappell’s dragonflies

On the stand beside Julie, is the highly accomplished painter Chris Wood (chriswoodartist.com/). His marine themes are richly coloured. “I love the dichotomy between the beauty of ships and the fact that they are killing machines,” he explains. “I have always appreciated the aesthetics of boats, but there is a psychological difference between military and leisure boats.”

Chris Wood’s Studio and boat research

He is currently doing the definitive painting of the Mary Rose. “It has taken 100 hours of research without picking up a paintbrush!” It will feature the battle of Solent. “Will there be blood and gore?” I ask him. “No,” he laughs, “it will be a chocolate box version.” Another brilliant and fun artist is Jon Everitt, painter of the cover of our upcoming book Portsmouth Fairy Tales (facebook.com/PortsmouthFairyTales) ‎(launching 21st June as part of Portsmouth Festivities, see you all there I hope!). Jon is selling the original version of Fish Face I am excited to see. He has a major exhibition this summer in France (4th – 29th June at Espace Pierre Mau, Sant Roch, Boulevard Lafayette) and is building up his portfolio so I’m excited that he is willing to let a few small canvases go. I see some other people approach and am horrified by the prospect of anyone else buying Fish Face so I quickly ask if I can buy it and we can put a red sticker on it so everyone knows it’s gone. Luckily, Jon agrees 🙂

Jon Everitt’s Angelic Suds

“There are still lots of angels, mermaid charmers and boat people playing music,” Jon tells me about his upcoming show in France, “but I’ll also have some black and white which is very different to my normal colourful style.” There will however be ink spray prints and painting on sale via his website in advance of the exhibition (joneveritt.net). Jon’s work can also be found on the Save the Pier Calendar which is being sold to raise funds for the South Parade Trust (southparadetrust.org). Scott McLachlan and Howard Thompson are here and they tell me about the progress of the trust and how they feel the pier should be in community, rather than private, hands. “People really care,” Scott says, “there’s a nostalgia for it, people have met there, there are memories.” Local stars have also been keen to save the pier including the author and script writer Neil Gaiman “He has been really supportive on his blog,” Howard explains.

Jon Everitt’s Roy Lichtenstein inspired painting for the South Parade Trust Calendar

Another artist who has done artwork around the strong imagery of the pier is Simon Whitcomb (simonwhitcomb.com) who paints in effervescent, almost cartoon-like colours (see top image). He is also exhibiting today some scary acrylics inspired by Hammer Horror posters.

An Even Bigger Splash Steve Bumphrey

Steve Bumphrey (throughdifferenteyes.co.uk) who will be exhibiting in the upcoming France exhibition with Jon, is a travel photographer who has taken shots in Nicaragua, India, Mexico and Guatemala.

“I like my photographs to look more like paintings than photographs,” he says and explains that he can see the appeal of technical detailed photography such as spider web close ups, but doesn’t think that’s the sort of thing people want on their wall. He has recently started doing abstract work such as nudes and pedestrian crossings. I am particularly taken by two of his photos: one is a close up of a Patisserie door. It has a warm summery hue, the wood is interesting looking. The other is this photograph (see left). “I’m a Yorkshire man like David Hockney” he chuckles. “That’s my bum jumping into the pool. I had a tripod and took half a dozen shots. I call it An Even Bigger Splash. I’m impressed. There are three other photographers exhibiting, each with very different styles and tones:

Nick Ingamells (nickingamellsphotography.co.uk) is exhibiting his photos, encouraged by his wife Jane and daughter Ruth.
They include gorgeous up close photos of the hovercraft. “It’s fascinating if you get up close,” he enthuses. He’s also a musician (sax and piano) and together with Jane (violinist) they enjoy performing salon or tango music. “I like the idea of our music fitting behind the talking. It’s nice when people are having a good time and they listen to you, but they’re not concentrating on you or taking notes.” His photography has a similar feel to his take on music. A cat amongst the flowers, a hovercraft, he is there and not there, he’s adding a touch of atmosphere without interfering.

Nick Ingamells Photography Hovercraft to Ryde leaving Southsea

Russell Stewart (russellstewartphotography.co.uk) “I started taking photos about 5 years ago”, Russell says “I did two years photography study in Northern Island and I’m now at Portsmouth University. I’ll be exhibiting next year at the Eldon Building in the graduate show.” His exhibition will be about bagpipers, a first step in a documentary photography career that focuses on people in social spaces. “My ideal job would be to work for National Geographic but you know,” Russell says, “I do love black and white, the romance of it.”

Russell Stewart’s bagpipers, a few photographs from his collection

Talking of black and white… Dillinger K H Lee is a photographer from Hong Kong (facebook.com/DillingersPhotography) After graduating in photography from Portsmouth University he hopes to go into the Hong Kong police force, possibly in the PTU (Police Tactical Unit). “The forces in Hong Kong are looking for people who do photography as well,” he explains. “I’ve already been commissioned in Hong Kong to shoot protests. The police can use the photos to promote the police force.” He admits that he misses his home city, its busy urban environment and the night life. “Portsmouth is too quiet, everything closes at 5!”

Dillinger K H Lee’s Flicker page, go to: https://secure.flickr.com/photos/dillinger_lee/

There is also the figurative artist Nick Llewellyn (nickllewellyn.moonfruit.com) who has spent years hill walking and after living in Chile decided to break free from the restrictions of 3D design (furniture/buildings/interiors) and become an artist. “This is me,” he says “this is entirely me, not restricted by client budgets or the physical world. This,” he says pointing at a hill with trees denoted by slashed lines (see Windgrass)“is as figurative as I’ll get.” But why? I ask him. “I prefer to do an image that people can read their own story into. It will trigger a memory in the viewer. Those are the things I like. I love Prunella Clough (www.tate.org.uk/art/artists/prunella-clough-921), Callum Innes (http://www.calluminnes.com/) and Patrick Herron (http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artists/patrick-heron-1278).” The only way he’ll return to the physical restrictions of 3D design are through abstracts sculpture “I may yet return to that.” he grins.

Nick Llewellyn’s Windgrass

For those of you in Pompey on June the 21st, see you at the Groundlings for some grown up fairy tales (free event)… details on our new facebook site (facebook.com/PortsmouthFairyTales) or on the official Portsmouth Festivities event website!

https://www.facebook.com/PortsmouthFairyTales/photos_stream

 

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