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Taking a cue from Nathan Coley's seminal text work, currently on display in London as part of ‘Sculpture in The City’, Parafin’s summer programme creates a series of shifting dialogues and encounters between works by the artists the gallery represents. Coley’s work highlights the ambiguity of language, and can be read as a statement of fact, an exhortation, a critique or even a lament, and this series of staged encounters will be similarly open. Multiple potential meanings are produced by changing contexts. Every week a different group of works will be placed ‘in focus’ in the front part of the gallery's main space, while the rest of the gallery will be given over to an ongoing group hang.
The Same For Everyone
22 July – 5 September 2020
Week 3: Hamish Fulton and Tania Kovats
5 – 8 August 2020
The third 'encounter' in Parafin's summer programme is between a group of Hamish Fulton's 'walk texts on wood' and Tania Kovats' drawing diptych All The Islands of The Arctic Circle (2014). Both artists are concerned with mapping and measuring the land. Fulton often uses time and distance - the number of days, the number of miles walked - to structure his works. Kovats has made many drawings which explore ideas of geography and map-making.
Hamish Fulton is a 'walking artist'. Although only Fulton experiences his solitary walks directly, the works he presents in exhibitions and books allow us to engage with them. Much of Fulton’s work is concerned with simple acts of counting and measuring: distance travelled, days spent walking. In these 'walk texts on wood' Fulton's handwritten texts are placed on pieces of recycled wooden ruler, thus emphasising the importance of measurement. The works are configured to resemble simple pictograms of landscape features such as mountains.
Tania Kovats makes sculpture, installations and large-scale time-based projects exploring our experience and understanding of landscape. She is also a keen advocate for the creative possibilities of drawing. In her ongoing series of works on islands, she draws each individual landmass in a given area on separate sheets of translucent mylar before layering them. Superimposed, geography is reconfigured and ghostly new cartographies emerge.
This is Kovats' first presentation at Parafin. Her first solo exhibition with the gallery will be in early 2021.
Week 2: Indrė Šerpytytė and Uwe Wittwer
29 July – 1 August 2020
The second encounter is between a work from Indre Šerpytytė’s 'Pedestal' series and a group of recent paintings by Uwe Wittwer. Both artists explore questions around history and memory and in particular the legacy of trauma.
Šerpytytė’s series 'Pedestal' addresses the gulf between past and present by contrasting archival images of statues of Lenin and Stalin, once sited in grand public spaces in Lithuania, with their current existence in Lithuania’s Grutas Park, a kitsch ‘ostalgia’ theme park. While elements of the composite images are congruent, suggesting continuity, there is a sharp contrast between the black and white archival photographs and the richly coloured contemporary images.
Pedestal, Neckerchiefs (2017) is accompanied by an audio piece, Toppled (2016). For this work the artist employed a professional narrator specialising in film and television descriptions for the blind to interpret footage compiled by the artist of the dismantling of public monuments after the disintegration of the Soviet Union. The audio descriptions, presented without emotional inflection, often focus on unexpected or surreal details and provide an arresting counterpoint to the images of the statues.
Wittwer’s paintings are based on archival images of East German ‘Pioneer’ camps. The idea of the camp, with its contradictory associations with leisure and imprisonment, home and displacement, is a theme that Wittwer has returned to many times in his career. In a series of watercolours derived from holiday postcards, the imagery is disrupted by the poignant messages sent home written on the reverse of the cards. In the large oil painting Flags (2018), a seemingly innocent image becomes allusive and ominous as red paint resembling blood runs, drips and stains the ground.
Week 1: Tim Head and Melanie Smith
22 – 25 July 2020
The first encounter is between a group of Melanie Smith's 'diagram paintings' and Tim Head's seminal 1980s painting, Frozen Planet (1988). In these works Head and Smith explore the role of information in shaping (and perhaps distorting) our world views. Smith's paintings present anonymous diagrams shorn of all data referents and Head's work utilises satellite imaging of the oceans. Lacking any context, the images become abstracted yet also ominous.