The new exhibition looking at Still Life in 2017
A _is A__. is the latest edition in curator-du-jour, Antonia Marsh’s impressive resume of group exhibitions. Debuting at the Golborne Gallery on 26 April, the show boasts firm favourites in the up-and-coming fine art scene such as Richie Culver, Tom Beard and Kingsley Ifill. Not to mention the works of Kate Falcone, Othelo Gervacio, James Concannon, Chase Hall, Alice Kirkpatrick, Carl Mark, Matt McCormick, Tristan Pigott, Matilde Does Ramussen, Alex Sainsbury and Rebecca Storm.
Antonia first gained notoriety in the art world with her all female artist collective ‘Girls Only’ in 2014. Aside for being known for her impressive eye in her own photographic endeavours she has curated shows in London, New York, Japan, Mumbai and Art Basel to name a few. Forever moving forward, Ais A focuses on the still life, or a ‘reassessment of objects and their associations’. Inspired by a Gertrude Stein’s line “Rose is a rose is a rose is a rose” mirroring Shakespeare’s Romeo’s ‘lovelorn bid to answer “What is a name?” And consider the inextricability of meaning from objects and their designations”.
Marsh has been especially interested as to what exactly a still life means in 2017; in context of gender, does a male artist create a more stereotypically masculine scene? How does feminism translate through objects or does the artist’s gender identification play no role, are still lives non-subjective?
We catch up with Richie Culver, Othelo Gervacio and Kate Falcone to talk about the still life in 2017.
What constitutes/represents a still life for you?
Kate Falcone: In art history, a still life is traditionally a two dimensional work depicting a staged grouping of natural and man-made objects. As an artist in the 21st century primarily working in sculpture, I think my understanding of the still life has definitely updated this notion. I think at its core a still life has some sort of narrative, background story, or deeper meaning beyond what is represented; what is depicted is merely a stand in of some sort. For me, still lifes exist everywhere in real life and can be readymade. I definitely think there is a transient quality to contemporary still life that people can capture on their phones.. I see them on instagram and in New York all the time! I think what I leave on my bed when I'm getting ready in a rush - a pile of clothing with my cat sleeping on top, a half eaten apple and a lipstick - is a still life.
Richie Culver: Maybe the days of watching Jeremy Kyle on repeat. Or old morbid still life's found at a Carboot sales when i was young.
Has personal environment/experience influenced the way in which you would view your piece? Or affected your method and the objects of which it is constituted?
RC: Yes, massively. I have been playing around with various barren objects which at one time or another have played key parts in my life.
Alone, each object poses no threat what so ever. Yet together they become a force to be reckoned with. Since Brexit happened, the pieces finally had a voice or a place in the world - hence the title: Starter Kit.
Have you tried to convey a certain message through your piece?
Othelo Gervacio: At the beginning of every piece, I source every flower or combination of flowers and photograph them for the duration of their lives. I then pick a moment (photograph) that speaks to me the most and in turn, that photograph becomes the image I paint. What I look for the most is the "body language" in the flowers and compositions. I see the flowers as anthropomorphic representations of people. I, of course, have my own idea of what the painting is saying, but what I find most intriguing is how other people interpret the pieces. I try most of the time to leave my opinion off the table and survey what other people think . The title of the piece is, "You Said Forever." Without giving it totally away, I think maybe that clues into how I see it?
Do you feel that gender affects what it is you choose to represent? Or how you represent it?
KF: I think a lot of objects signify gender through use, decorative attributes, or what domain they exist in. Generally speaking, a power drill and an antique embroidered quilt bring lots of different associations to mind, in terms of time, machine made vs handmade, use, user, sphere, gender, anatomy, etc. In sculpture i like to use the intersection of materiality / color / and what is being represented to play with gender and sexuality, for instance a piece of thick rope from a hardware store painted pink and coated in resin. The symbol of the bow and color pink can recall certain associations to mind, but the material can offset that. With my still life laura ashley heart chakra I chose a mix of readymades and depicted natural objects: a flower, shell, egg, pillow, and diaper pin stuck in chewed bubblegum. I treat the energetic body of my work with reiki and crystal healing, which balances its auric field and subsequently morphs its outer expression of gender and sexuality.
OG: For me it's less about gender and more about human beings in general. It's about the complexities of relationships; platonic, romantic and even familial. The piece could represent a woman and a man, a man and man, or a woman and woman. One of the main goals for me is to evoke an immediate, personal and relatable emotion within the viewer. If I don't make it that far, I at least want them to feel like they are looking through a window and witnessing an emotional moment between two people.
A___is A____. opens Wednesday the 26th (Private view 6-9pm) of April until May 13th at the Goldborne Gallery, 72 Goldborne Road, London W10 5PS.
Words by Indigo Lewin Courtsey of Love magazine