Liverpool Art Prize 2011 at Metal, Edge Hill Station. 6 May – 11 June.
The Shortlisted Artists
• Brendan Lyons (www.brendanlyons.co.uk)
• Bernadette O’Toole (www.bernadetteo.tumblr.com)
• Richard Proffitt (www.richardproffitt.co.uk)
• Markus Soukup (www.thebluecoat.org.uk/gallery/markus-soukup)
Everything exhibited by Brendan is made out of paint alone. If you were to cut a cross-section between any two points of any one painting, it would reveal only paint. The paintings are then fixed to the wall using further paint as an adhesive. This leaves just one element (paint) attached to the wall.
Through experimentation with the techniques of painting, and the material of artists’ paint itself, Brendan Lyons plays with our traditional acceptance of what makes an artwork. Art historically painting has always been the most dominant medium for artists, Brendan plays with this obsession by referencing this tradition and its formal elements (such as windows, patterns, grids, rectangles, layers) to investigate how we encounter and perceive the contemporary world.
The paintings replicate what we would normally see in the urban environment, and are often placed directly into this environment. It is important that they sit convincingly within the contemporary built environment as well as within the gallery; highlighting the duality and the formal boundaries of these spaces. What may appear to be bricks, polythene sheets, staples, various types of tape, floor tiles, builder’s orange safety netting, tarpaulin, sheets of corrugated metal or cardboard, and other urban detritus – are in fact just unsupported paint alone.
Here Brendan has created a site specific installation of his paintings responding to the architectural elements of the space, such as the walkways, windows and safety glass. The paintings appear to be the remnants of construction or temporary repairs. Look more closely and you will see that every element of the interventions within the space is made from paint alone.
Underpinning and driving Bernadette’s work is a rigorous investigation of spatial relationships within the context of the empty page or blank canvas. Taking line as her starting point Bernadette constructs highly individual paintings, drawings and installations reflecting her ongoing fascination with the spaces we construct both real and imagined and our relationship to these spaces. The work seeks to present multiple view points, to suggest infinite possibilities, while drawing attention to the fragility of our constructs: the impermanence of things.
The constructed spaces in the painting are intended to operate on a sensory level, conscious of the observer and the way in which seeing is interchangeable with revelation, or in what Stephan Mallarme described as a “sensory mode of apprehension”. The more recent circular paintings suggest unpopulated landscapes where planes collide and distort giving rise to complex and unstable readings.
In this new series of work created for the Liverpool Art Prize Exhibition the relationship between each of the paintings and the notion of reflection and mirroring become critical to the reading of the work. O’Toole describes these recent paintings as “being inspired by an experience of being in wide open spaces, conscious of the curvature of the earth, of the horizon line, the vanishing point, of being and not being, of slipping off the edge of the world; and the phrases that come to mind: reflected in these moments.”
“Where emptiness matters as much as fullness and reflections have the weight of things”
“The empty mirror holds an ephemeral form-the root of meaning, held by nothing more than this moment of affect that makes us speechless, that cannot be lost in the network of semantic relationship, the interruption of our inner monologue” – Roland Barthes
Richard Proffitt’s work is inspired by and references spaghetti westerns, ghost towns, American sub-culture, anthropology, ancient civilizations, travellers, den making, folklore and urban myth. These inspirations become intertwined and their meaning mangled, producing work that is absurd, funny, dark and mysterious. The work will often become realised as make-shift ceremonial relics or ritualistic hang-outs.
For the Liverpool Art Prize exhibition Richard has transformed Edge Hill’s Accumulator Tower into an abandoned shrine that pays homage to phantom obsessions with 50s rock ‘n’ roll, motorcycles and teenage tragedy songs. In part it is inspired by the Santeria religion found in Cuba which focuses on building relationships between humans and Orisha, powerful mortal spirits, through rituals and animal sacrifices. Their shrines are often found in abandoned back streets in Cuba and are a strange jumble of found objects, religious iconography, junk and other ephemera.
Richard’s installations could be seen as a collection of fragments from a forgotten culture in a post apocalyptic age, a museum exhibit from the future, formed from the traces of disregarded items and forgotten crazes from our dominant Western culture. The objects within the installation become removed from their history, origin and belief system and merge together to form a new folklore or a new imaginary anthropology.
“Hopefully my work encourages the viewer to let their imaginations flow for a while.”
Markus is interested in how an object, image or moving image can communicate its intended content or expression by still enabling freedom of interpretation on realistic and abstract levels. His work is situated mainly in the context of installation and the moving image, incorporating video, 2D and 3D animation. Fascinated by the screen as a window opening up to a virtual space, he searches for a way of incorporating new technologies to install or position ‘situations’ or ‘mental objects’ in both real and virtual spaces. Other areas of his work are digital photography, typography, graphic and interactive design, field recordings, sound design and electronic
For the Liverpool Art Prize exhibition Markus has produced new work that deals with the construction and deconstruction of film, language and motion. Through this work he is exploring how one element or its position can influence the whole, and vice versa. His animation ‘The Masque’ uses words rather than pictures to make us imagine the action suggested on screen. It makes us see the abstract nature of words, their form and shape and how they relate to one another. Markus wants us to engage in the art of looking, seeing the screen as something which can reflect our experience of reality. ‘Relicts’, a series of minimal typographical prints, raises questions about being positioned within the context of technology, society and nature, and the transitional relationships between these things. In ‘Chair Chair Sit In between’ Markus himself performs, referencing slap-stick and early movie pioneers, yet playing with the language of film and its boundaries, deconstructing the elements to a basic action and reaction in sound and vision.
All photos c. McCoy Wynne