|1999-2002||Post-Graduate Diploma Fine Art||Royal Academy Schools, London|
|1996-1999||BA (Hons) Fine Art||Loughborough University School of Art|
|ONE PERSON EXHIBITIONS|
|2016||Hype Trace||CHARLIE SMITH LONDON, London|
|2013||Mise en Abyme||CHARLIE SMITH LONDON, London|
|2010||A King’s Gambit Accepted||CHARLIE SMITH LONDON, London|
|2009||Hexen Reflex||Mark Moore Gallery, Los Angeles|
|2006||Unnatural Selection||Sartorial Contemporary Art, London|
|SELECTED GROUP EXHIBITIONS|
|2016||Black Paintings (curated by Heike Strelow)||CHARLIE SMITH LONDON, London|
|2015||Black Paintings (curated by Zavier Ellis)||CHARLIE SMITH LONDON, London|
|2015||Die English Kommen! New Painting from London (curated by Zavier Ellis)||Galerie Heike Strelow, Frankfurt|
|2014||Saatchi’s New Sensations and THE FUTURE CAN WAIT (curated by Zavier Ellis, Simon Rumley & Rebecca Wilson)||B1, Victoria House, London|
|2014||Cultus Deorum (curated by Zavier Ellis)||Saatchi Gallery, London|
|2012||The Saatchi Gallery & Channel 4’s New Sensations and THE FUTURE CAN WAIT (curated by Zavier Ellis, Simon Rumley & Rebecca Wilson)||B1, Victoria House, London|
|2012||Polemically Small (curated by Zavier Ellis & Edward Lucie- Smith)||Orleans House Gallery, Twickenham|
|2012||The Id, the Ego and the Superego (curated by Zavier Ellis & Marcella Munteanu)||BRAUBACHfive, Frankfurt|
|2011||The Saatchi Gallery & Channel 4’s New Sensations and THE FUTURE CAN WAIT (curated by Zavier Ellis, Simon Rumley & Rebecca Wilson)||B1, Victoria House, London|
|2011||Polemically Small (curated by Edward Lucie-Smith)||Klaipeda Culture Communication Centre, Klaipeda|
|2011||THE FUTURE CAN WAIT presents: Polemically Small (curated by Zavier Ellis, Edward Lucie-Smith, Max Presneill & Simon Rumley)||Torrance Art Museum, Torrance|
|2011||Attraction of the Opposites (curated by Kiki Petratou)||CUCOSA, Rotterdam|
|2010||THE FUTURE CAN WAIT (curated by Zavier Ellis & Simon Rumley)||Shoreditch Town Hall, London|
|2010||Papyrophilia||CHARLIE SMITH LONDON, London|
|2010||The Reflected Gaze||Torrance Art Museum, Torrance|
|2009||THE FUTURE CAN WAIT (curated by Zavier Ellis & Simon Rumley)||Old Truman Brewery, London|
|2009||New London School (curated by Zavier Ellis & Simon Rumley)||Galerie Schuster, Berlin|
|2008||THE FUTURE CAN WAIT (curated by Zavier Ellis & Simon Rumley)||Old Truman Brewery, London|
|2008||The Past is History (curated by Zavier Ellis & Simon Rumley)||Changing Role Gallery, Rome/Naples|
|2008||New London School (curated by Zavier Ellis & Simon Rumley)||Mark Moore Gallery, Los Angeles|
|2007||THE FUTURE CAN WAIT (curated by Zavier Ellis & Simon Rumley)||Old Truman Brewery, London|
|2006||Icons||Chungking Projects, Los Angeles|
|2006||Half Life||Fieldgate Gallery, London|
|2006||New Figurative Realism||CHARLIE SMITH LONDON, London|
|2006||People Like Us||No More Grey, London|
|2005||Maji Jabii!! Fucking Brilliant!!||Tokyo Wondersite, Tokyo|
|2005||Carter Presents||Carter Presents, London|
|2005||New London Kicks||Wooster Projects, New York|
|2005||The Deviants||Sartorial Contemporary Art, London|
|2005||The Sun Also Rises||Rockwell, London|
|2005||Faux Realism Part 1+2||Rockwell & Royal Academy Pumphouse, London|
|2005||Darkest Hour||Leisure Club Mogadishni, Copenhagen|
|2004||Horizon of Expectation||Empire Gallery, London|
|2004||Born, Cry, Eat, Shit, Fuck, Die||Rockwell, London|
|2011||The Face of Jesus, Edward Lucie-Smith||Harry N. Abrams|
|2011||The Saatchi Gallery & Channel 4’s New Sensations and THE FUTURE CAN WAIT||Exhibition Catalogue|
|2011||3 Worlds in 1||Exhibition Catalogue|
|2009||New Masters of Paint: today’s top contemporary painters||Modern Edition|
|2009||Ten New Artists you should really Have Heard of by Now||GQ Magazine|
|2008||THE FUTURE CAN WAIT||Exhibition Catalogue|
|2006||Rockwell Space and Artists||Modern Painters|
|2005||Review||Time Out Magazine|
|2005||Feature, Keith Talent Gallery, London||Miser & Now|
|2004||Liberal Intervention: The Empires New Clothes?, Allegra Stratton & James Lindon (eds)||Aitchess Press|
|2003||Friends in High Places||Art Review|
|Marc Coucke, Ghent|
|Jean Pigozzi, Geneva|
|David Roberts, London|
|Thomas Rusche, Münster|
|Dr Rainer Schiweck, Munich|
|The SØR Rusche Collection, Oelde / Berlin|
|Howard Tullman, Chicago|
|Private collections in France, Germany, Italy, United Kingdom & United States|
|GAVIN NOLAN | Mise en Abyme|
|Exhibition Dates : Friday May 17th-Saturday June 22nd 2013|
|CHARLIE SMITH LONDON is delighted to host Gavin Nolan’s second one person exhibition at the gallery.
Nolan’s recent collection represents an enquiry into the life, mind, thoughts and feelings of the practising artist. Taking a nihilistic approach to the notion of portraiture, Nolan undoes many of the modes that have previously underpinned his work, and embraces the abstract in order to unveil his subjects.
By imagining characteristics and simultaneously projecting himself onto his subjects, each painting becomes a representation of an art world type, and most predominantly the artist. The paintings in themselves might be considered a mirror, and we the audience find ourselves between two mirrors infinitely reflecting each other: the painter and the painting. This diaristic approach is revealing then, but also affirms that while elements of an artist’s life and work are universal, there is also much that is fleeting and fugitive.
This sense of self-reflection is magnified by the appearance of paintings within paintings. Means of Production features a version of itself at an earlier stage of completion. And the reverse side of a large scale canvas in The Crash recalls Velazquez’s Las Meninas, where the Spanish master famously portrays himself looking directly out from the picture plane towards the spectator, whilst standing before a large canvas. In the distance a mirror reflects King Philip IV of Spain and his wife the Queen. The spectator is, therefore, caught between the artist’s gaze and an imagined subject, whilst the reflection causes a logical conundrum. Nolan, in turn, substitutes himself for that subject, whilst reminding us that the artist was originally in the position of the spectator. Thus, artist, audience and subject become inexorably intertwined.
Nolan employs research into technological viewing devices in order to reveal his subjects. The Crash depicts a smoking, drinking artist hero whose form is defined by the language of thermal imaging. In opposition to traditional figure painting shadows are represented by hot colours and surface areas by cool. Recalling earlier work there is an indication of energy emanating from the subject, which is a reminder of our need of life force in order to create, and of the power of the individual. This unmasking of the interior world is continued throughout the collection, where faces are peeled back to reveal skull like visages that appear to be haunted by the mixed empirical associations of making and showing work: absorption, paranoia, egotism and anxiety.
|GAVIN NOLAN | A King’s Gambit Accepted|
|Exhibition Dates : Friday March 19th – Saturday April 24th 2010|
|CHARLIE SMITH LONDON is delighted to present Gavin Nolan with his first London one person show since 2006.
Nolan has become internationally known for his brutal self portraits and portraits of those around him. More recently, however, the artist has begun to depict historical figures of consequence, leading on from his abject painting 'Portrait as the Suicide of Robert Benjamin Haydon Attempt no. 3', where a self portrait is superimposed onto the death mask of Benjamin Haydon, complete with gunshot wound and open slits to the throat.
For 'A King's Gambit Accepted' the artist has created a collection that continues to draw on historical figures, and in particular those who have committed suicide or chosen a definitive path of action that drives them towards an inevitable death, for example Adolf Hitler, Jesus Christ, Walter Benjamin and Ernest Hemingway. Nolan seeks to render biographical aspects of the subject in the painted surface, whilst aligning knowledge of their particular method of demise to art historical references. And by investigating notions of image and adornment in relation to interiority, the artist explores aspects of the subjects’ private and public lives. A revelatory sense of psychological turmoil, paranoia and violence seeps out, with horror set against beauty and unease underpinning precocity.
Corresponding with these notions are a consideration of power and authority and their projection upon others, where a public surfacing of one person’s private will can lead to populations adhering to cults, religions and schools of thought. We are encouraged to question the correlation between fame, notoriety, death and even mental illness; the ensuing relationships between them, and the consequent impact on society and the individual. Ultimately Nolan serves to emphasize how complex and interconnected are personal and public histories, interior and external worlds, and how the nature of a death can come to define a subject’s life.
|SUE HUBBARD | Points of Departure|
|Exhibition: Mise en Abyme|
|Exhibition Dates: Friday May 17th – Saturday June 22nd 2013|
|In the spring of 1945 the French artist Jean Dubuffet wrote of painting in his Notes for the Well-Lettered that: “The point of departure is the surface one is to bring alive… and the first stroke of colour or ink that one lays on it; the resulting effect, the resulting adventure. It is this stroke, the degree to which one enriches it and gives it direction, that shapes the work. A painting is not built like a house…but rather facing away from the end result; gropings, going backwards!...And, you, painter, look to your palettes and rags, strokes of colour, patches and lines, that’s where you’ll find the keys you’re looking for.”
The collapse of faith in the conventional motifs and forms of art that had been unable to prevent the horrors of the Second World War and the Holocaust left sceptical artists with few places to go by the middle of last century. Such was Dubuffet’s response to the failures and protocols of culture that had failed to prevent a European blood-bath that he turned towards the primitive and unschooled. Graffiti, the art of children and the insane were seen to speak with unmediated authenticity and stand in contrast to what was considered civilised in a world of post-war angst. Within the avant-garde the artist’s expressive concerns were central. The artist as shaman and hero became one of the central constructs of modernism.
But for the postmodernist painter such a position is no longer tenable. The artist as outsider and tragic hero is a script that has long been played out. Gavin Nolan’s current exhibition Mise en Abyme is permeated by a sense of nostalgia and irony. Nostalgia for the loss of the possibility of direct expression, and a self-reflexive irony, which acknowledges that for the contemporary painter an interest in the expressive quality of paint is seen as a retro cliché. With their nervy impasto and febrile mark making his paintings ask what now counts as authenticity in a world of surface and simulacra, when the death of painting has been debated ad nauseum? What role is still open to the contemporary painter?
By projecting himself into his artistic archetypes, with their borrowed signifiers such as Joseph Beuys’s hat or Jay Joplin’s glasses, these paintings act as mirrors, conduits between artist and viewer where Nolan is both subject and maker, audience and object. The unmasking of the unconscious process of creativity is emphasised in his works where the outer layers of the face have been peeled back to reveal the armature of skull beneath. Not only do these invoke ideas of mortality, as expressed within vanitas paintings, but they suggest the subterranean world of the id - one full of anxiety, narcissism and self-doubt - which lurks behind the public face of the artist. Two fists tattooed with the dual words PAIN and TING pugilistically punch through the picture surface to assault the viewer with the single word PAINTING. Both a challenge and a rallying cry, it is a provocative gesture. In Private View, the artist is depicted nude, apart from a black leather jacket. The mask-like face suggests the public persona that such an event requires, whilst the level of anxiety at being caught naked as the Emperor with no clothes, clings like a noxious smell to the canvas. This duality of artist as both vulnerable and exhibitionist is highlighted by the mythic feel of the painting and its expressive volatile brushwork.
So who are such paintings, where viewer and artist coalesce, for? The truth is that an artist largely sets about creating his own audience. In facing the canvas he chooses not only to face himself but to create an ethical and aesthetic dialogue that is the prerequisite of all interesting art. The relationship a viewer strikes up with a painting is about a decision to give an artist time, to engage and take him seriously. The author, Flint Schier, in his essay, Painting after Art? composed as a commentary on Richard Wollheim’s concept of What the Spectator Sees , argues that “what gives value to the wide assortment of artistic projects is that some community of artists in fact genuinely cared about them and tried to make others care too… to appreciate them we must step into the perspective of the artists who took them seriously…”
The role of the contemporary painter is to make work that is the focus of attention and see to it that the viewer’s experience of giving that attention is worthwhile. To this end a painting must pose questions in the mind of the viewer. In these energetic diaristic works Nolan re-affirms painting as a continuing quest: one that is both self-reflexive and universal.
Sue Hubbard is a freelance art critic, award-winning poet and novelist. Her latest novel, Girl in White, is published by Cinnamon Press and her new poetry collection The Forgetting and Remembering of Air by Salt publishing. This coincides with a collaborative exhibition with the artist Rachel Howard, Over the Rainbow at Elevenspitalfields
|JONATHAN LAHEY DRONSFIELD | ‘Choose life or celebrate at the party of suicides’|
|Exhibition: A King’s Gambit Accepted|
|Exhibition Dates: Friday March 19th – Saturday April 24th 2010|
|And what a party: Walter Benjamin, Jesus Christ, Joseph Goebbels, Ernest Hemingway, Adolf Hitler, Marilyn Monroe, Sylvia Plath, Socrates, Virginia Woolf. There are no painters here, though according to the filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard they top the table of suiciding artists. Well, okay, Plath and Hemingway, but they’re relegation material paintingwise. And there is Hitler of course; but his speciality, and Goebbels’ too, another failed artist, was more in determining what ought not to count as art, burning books and quarantining degenerate paintings, and befriending the filmmaker Leni Riefenstahl. It is difficult for a filmmaker to commit suicide says Godard, because you are not alone, to make films you must work with at least one other person. A painter or a writer on the other hand can become isolated, can lose himself. But this does not mean losing oneself in one’s art, but that it becomes easier to lose oneself in one’s solitude. There are no painters here because these are paintings.
The Nazis were the expression of the state become suicidal – after the Jews and the gypsies it would have been the turn of artists and redheads, until there was no-one left but the executioner of the executioner. The true Nazi could never be a true Nazi, because the Nazi absolutely at one with his ideology, the Nazi whose very identity is his cause, could never be pure enough, his self-identity would need to take the form of murdering himself as the act of distinguishing himself from himself. Such would be how the longest Knight’s path closes, having taken every possible step it arrives back at itself obliged now to cross its own path at the very point of its departure. And such was the fate of art which in the name of an historical necessity claimed for itself the ability to discern the moment when it could touch its own propriety and sense the purity of art within itself.
If you choose to live in a society capable of mass destruction says Peter Sloterdijk (from whom the title of this essay comes) then you are a ‘semi-agent’ of a “cynical community of suicides”. But you cannot overcome the problem simply by escaping or emigrating. Not by escaping into leisure time, which would be to party with the suicides, and not by going as far away as possible, whether it be outward (you could never get far enough away) or inward (an act of the mind to an inner elsewhere-than-here which would be Godard’s lost writer). Either of the latter is a splitting and an accession to schizophrenic existence and thus a form of suicide in itself. A schizophrenic structure is one in which the I that kills is no longer distinguishable from the I that is killed. No, the only way of avoiding suicide is to choose life. And to choose life is to affirm possibility in the form of embodied enlightenment. But that possibility is nothing less than the creation of a new body. The chessboard at the mouth of the suicide, emerging from it or receding into it, is the stage of the choice, the staging of the choice between the new body of an embodied enlightenment or suicide.
Or perhaps what we have with these paintings is the long-awaited wall of ‘the Federated Commune of Suicides’, something that Paul Virilio anticipated as the natural outcome of anti-representational art mirroring the decline of representative democracy. But even then it would at the same time be the re-emergence of the very thing Virilio thinks contemporary art is putting to death: painting, the slow born-again flesh and blood of paint, laying claim not to purity but to the body of the artist.
Either way, these paintings are about suicide, and paintings made under the condition of suicide; not paintings made when the artist was feeling suicidal, or at least I don’t think so, but paintings about suicide made when suicide appears to be one of the conditions determining the possibility of contemporary art.
According to one of the leading philosophers of art today, Alain Badiou, there are two conflicting and constitutive poles of contemporary art, two norms of what a subject is, two subjective paradigms at war with each other: the subject as its body, and the subject separate from its body. For the subject who identifies with its body the limit would be experimentation with death. In art this would be the body artist committing suicide in public. Nonetheless this paradigm is called enjoyment, because in the end experimentation with and identification with the body in life is enjoyment, in which death is part of life. But for the subject who refuses identity with its body the paradigm is sacrifice, because a refusal of the body in life is death. Here life is but part of death, where pleasure occurs in a world after this one, the same world where the suicide bomber projects himself. Today’s war on terror is the struggle between these two paradigms. If the choice is between enjoyment and sacrifice then no art is possible says Badiou. The artist today must neither identify with his own body nor separate himself from it. The artist must seek a way between two suicides. And perhaps what we have with these paintings, the game played in front of the eyes of these suicides, is an image of Badiou’s ‘third way’ between two suicides, an image of ‘immanent difference’, neither the immanence of identification with the body, nor the transcendence of its rejection. A game spilling from the mouth of the suicide or receding into it which opposes the choice between escape or emigration in favour of forms of living that what, open up play?
If it were not for art, or rather the way in which art can show us a certain truth about ourselves, that we are capable of the untrue and must welcome it as the condition of the true, then we would all have committed suicide long ago. So says Nietzsche. If we had only science and the ways in which it shows us the untrue, then by our honesty we would have been led to suicide. Only art makes existence bearable, as a fictional appearance. Art gives us the eyes and hands to fashion ourselves as fictions, so Nietzsche. But more than that it provides us with the good conscience to do so, art is the good will that lets us play, lets us float above ourselves to a place beyond our morality and our honesty from where we can laugh freely and playfully and experience our freedom. So Nietzsche.
But it would not be a freedom absolutely free from those things at which we laugh and still less a freedom from ourselves; on the contrary, we become tolerable to ourselves at this moment. Freedom is not simply our own property, if it were then we could decide on the freedom to kill ourselves and still survive. To decide on death believing that you are deciding for freedom is to meet with the resistance of what conditions freedom and is the condition of freedom, the experience of an other, the otherness of another person, another person in me or in front of me, through the experience of which I gain my freedom. That I laugh at that moment, that’s the moment when the game and the saying of thanks are one and the same.
Alain Badiou, ‘The subject of art’, trans. Lydia Kerr, Deitch Projects, in The Symptom, 6, 2005.
Jean-Luc Godard, ‘Quand j'ai commencé à faire des films, j'avais zéro an’, Liberation, 15 mai 2004.
Friedrich Nietzsche, The Gay Science, trans. Josefine Nauckhoff (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001).
Peter Sloterdijk, Critique of Cynical Reason, trans. Michael Eldred (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1987).
Paul Virilio, Art and Fear, trans. Julie Rose (London: Continuum, 2003).