East Sussex Open at Towner Gallery, Eastbourne
As a gallery, I quite like the Towner. The polished concrete and clean lines are a perfect backdrop for art. It's almost a cliche gallery space, but cliches are cliches because they work and they are true. But I'm not here to discuss architecture.
The East Sussex Open
"offers artists and gallery visitors a unique opportunity to present and view works by artists at every level of their career, from new talent to established figures."
This means that you get some really interesting and exciting works next to works that are not so interesting or well executed. In a discussion with Pickles about the show I brought up that there were some pieces in the show that didn't seem to fit contemporary art.
Not every artist is a contemporary or conceptual artist. Not everyone drawing or painting is a fine artist, which is not to say these individuals do not have skills, they do. When those who do not understand contemporary art find out I am an artist, they presume I paint, I draw and those pieces look realistic, this couldn't be further than the truth.
ANYWAY. I'll stop sounding like an arrogant art-wanker now.
There are 70 artists exhibiting as part of the East Sussex Open 2016 and it's a big show. There are many works that command the rooms they are in, artists that I recognise easily, such as Hermoine Allsopp, Sharon Haward, Brian Rybolt, and Andrew and Eden Kotting. The variety of works is exciting, with all practices (apart from new media/internet art, maybe) being represented. At times the curation could seem rushed, but it is a mammoth undertaking to create a flow with such large numbers of works that are not tied to themes as such. Saying that though, what I wouldn't do to give curating a show that size a shot.
I'd love to talk about all the pieces, the artists selected are good, they have a command over their materials and a succinct way of displaying their investigations. There are pieces that delight and there are pieces that require more thought. As the show features artists in a variety of stages of their practice, obviously some pieces are more advanced than others, yet to have an opportunity to create and exhibit is a learning curve each and every artist should have the chance to do. For an over-view of the type of artwork that is created in East Sussex, this show does exceptionally well.
Basically, East Sussex Open is open until October 2016, and if you've got time, I'd go, because it is worth it.
On entering the gallery the viewer is met by Emily Allchurch's intricate and detailed backlit image depicting a dystopian nightmare. Allchurch interprets the old classics within her practice, there are clues to what painting once was and what art is now. Questioning how we view the world is embodied into this work by Allchurch and it's exciting, and grab your eye and find yourself falling to the work captivating.
Into the second room and Rachel Cohen's work could be overlooked, the stones displayed within a case are unobtrusive and throw back to museum exhibits, there's a subtle elevation of these objects to something precious. After reading about the work and on discovery that Cohen has replicated the original stone with clay and paint the viewer takes on the role of investigator, which is the original and which the replication?
Andrea G Artz takes over a corner of another room, with a work that slowly creeps into the centre of the gallery. The piece shown as part of the East Sussex Open has a playful feel to it, and there is a feeling of transience and movement. Artz creates a work that has a delightful narrative imbued, we are the narrator over looking our characters as they go about their daily lives. It's pretty damned special.
Of the 2D works shown at Towner, Sam Frederick's were the most arresting. His photographs embody space, nature and feel almost apocalyptic. There seems like an urgency is needed to capture what is slowly being destroyed, moody and atmospheric these will stay with me for awhile.
A teddy bear as a police man shedding layers stands in the corner, Sandra Collee appears to be satirical within her work. There is a jaring dissonance between the image on the wall and the detritus on the floor. Of all the works in the show this is the most striking, with the viewer questing and reading.
I should probably stop saying I have no interest with painting, as again after viewing an exhibition I've fallen in love with a set of paintings. Jaye Ho works with misinformation and these abstracts are absolutely stunning, my photograph does the works no justice. There are layers and depth and texture and colour. There is a nod to natural forms within these pieces, that, too, pull the image together.