Parafin is delighted to announce a group exhibition, curated by Rebecca Partridge. ‘In Pursuit of Elusive Horizons’ continues a series of exhibitions featuring the same core group of artists, curated by Partridge with various co-curators, including ‘Scaling the Sublime: Art at the Limits of Landscape’, Djanogly Art Gallery, Nottingham (2018), ‘Reason and Emotion: Landscape and the Contemporary Romantic’, Kunstverein Springhornhof, Germany (2013) and ‘Reason and Emotion: Landscape and the Contemporary Romantic’, Baroniet Rosendal, Norway (2012). ]
Pursuing an elusive horizon conjures an image of the romantic figure in a lone and distant landscape, both longing for and questioning the existential relationship between self and nature. A decade ago, to describe an artwork, or an artist, as ‘romantic’ would be to suggest the absurdity of this scene, the romantic hero lost in his own subjective illusion. However, despite the dismissal of subjective states as serious subject for artistic enquiry, the impulse towards feeling and imagination remain. As one of the artists in this exhibition recently remarked, ‘I am, I guess, a wonder junkie’, one of a generation of artists who are increasingly returning to grand narratives and timeless themes, though embraced with a simultaneous sense of distance, critique and irony.
This exhibition brings together five artists whose practice is expressive of this emergent sensibility, all of whom use landscape as a platform for exploring larger ideas. Each of the artists, in their own way, occupies the border between emotional experience and objective reasoning, often fluctuating between multiple and contradictory positions, drawing on a wealth of art historical languages. In 2010, cultural theorists, Robin van den Akker and Timotheus Vermeulen defined this emerging cultural climate as Metamodern, describing a pervading shift in contemporary culture from detached irony to a desire for sincerity, to wanting to believe in something, to ‘resignify the present’. This re-engagement with feeling and meta-narratives manifests through juxtapositions, collaboration, interdisciplinarity and a pervading sense of simultaneity and flux. Romanticism, they propose, be defined by a sense of oscillation; between projection and perception, and attempts at transcendence which ultimately, can never fully be realised. Contemporary romanticism functions in full awareness of its failures, yet carries on ‘as if’ there is a possibility for alternative futures, investing, to quote Novalis, ‘the commonplace with significance, the ordinary with mystery and the finite with the semblance of the infinite’.
Through shared concerns for meta-narratives of scale, time and perceptual relationships to landscape, the artists here have found ways of combining languages, from the scientific to the sublime, that generate both ambiguity and intellectual clarity. ‘In Pursuit of Elusive Horizons’ articulates a sense of exploration and curiosity, demonstrating that ultimately, our need for wonder is part of the human condition and affective experiences cannot be dismissed as being mutually exclusive to critical rigour. Instead these artists, through a variety of strategies and a diverse range of media, incorporate and embrace the contradictions and uncertainties of our time.
With thanks to Luke Turner for the exhibition title, taken from his article of the same name at www.metamodernism.com.
Martin John Callanan (b.1982, UK) lives and works in Scotland.
Martin John Callanan’s artwork has been exhibited and published internationally. He has recently been awarded the prestigious triennial Philip Leverhulme Prize in Visual Art 2014-17 for outstanding research, and in September 2015 he was awarded Alumnus of the Year for Excellence in the Arts by Birmingham City University. His was the first artist-in-residence at the Bank of England from 2015-16. Recent solo exhibitions include: Noshowspace, London, Horrach Moya, Palma de Mallorca, Baltic 39, Newcastle-upon-Tyne and Or Gallery, Berlin. Recent group exhibitions include Es Baluard Modern and Contemporary Art Museum, Mallorca, Whitechapel Art Gallery, London, ZKM Karlsruhe, Germany; Ars Electronic Centre, Austria, Kunstverein Springhornhof, Neuenkirchen, Germany, Riga Centre for New Media Culture, Latvia and Imperial War Museum North.
Simon Faithfull (b.1966, UK) lives and works in London and Berlin.
Simon Faithfull is Reader in Fine Art at the Slade School of Fine Art, UCL, London. His wide-ranging practice is well known internationally and his works are represented in many public collections including the Pompidou Centre in France and the Government Art Collection, UK. Recent exhibitions include solo shows at the Musée Des Beaux Arts, Calais, Fabrica, Brighton and Kunstverein Sprinhornhof, Germany. His practice, combining video, digital-drawing, writing and performing, has been described as an attempt to understand and explore the planet as a sculptural object-to test its limits and report back from its extremities. Recent projects include a journey across Africa tracing the Greenwich Meridian and the deliberate sinking of a ship to create an artificial reef.
Rebecca Partridge (b.1976, UK) lives and works in Berlin and London.
Rebecca Partridge studied at the Royal Academy Schools, and is currently a Lecturer in Fine Art at West Dean College, UK. Recent solo exhibitions include In The Meantime at CCA Andratx, Mallorca, and Notations at Kunstverein in Springhornhof, Neuenkirchen, Germany. Recent international group exhibitions including ‘Inorganic Landscape’, GIG, Munich (2017), Nature Art Biennale, Gongu, South Korea (2016), ‘A Planetary Order’, Galerie Christian Ehrentruat, Berlin (2014). Grants awarded include Terra Foundation for American Art Summer Fellowship and residencies from Kunsthalle CCA Andratx and The Josef and Anni Albers Foundation. In 2017 she was awarded a residency from the Nordic Artists’ Centre where she made the works for this exhibition. She writes for several contemporary art journals including Berlin Art Link, Hyperallergic and Sculptorvox.
Katie Paterson (b.1981, UK) lives and works in Scotland.
Katie Paterson studied at the Slade School of Fine Art, London. Paterson’s work is known internationally. Recent solo exhibitions include Utah Museum of Fine Art, USA, Somerset House, London, Cenbtre PasqArt, Biel, The Lowry, Salford, FRAC Franche Comte Besançon, France; Kunstverein Springhornhof, Germany, Mead Art Gallery, University of Warwick, Kettle’s Yard, Cambridge, and BAWAG Contemporary, Vienna. Her works have been exhibited in major exhibitions including ‘Light Show’, Hayward Gallery, London and tour (2013-15), ‘Dissident Futures’, Yerba Buena Centre for the Arts, San Francisco (2013), ‘Light and Landscape’ at Storm King Art Centre, New York (2012), ‘Marking Time’ at MCA, Sydney (2012), and ‘Altermodern’ at Tate Britain (2009). Her work is included in important international collections including the Solomon R Guggenheim Museum, New York, Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh, Arts Council Collection, London, Arts Institute of Chicago and the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney.
Richard T. Walker (b.1977, UK) lives and works in San Francisco.
Richard T. Walker studied at Goldsmith College, London. He has exhibited and performed world-wide, including solo and group exhibitions at San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco, The Contemporary Austin, Austin, Texas, Times Museum Guangzhou, China, Museum of Modern Art, Rio de Janeir, Hiroshima City of Museum of Contemporary Art, Japan, Witte De With Center for Contemporary Art, Rotterdam, Netherlands. His work is held in collections including San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Kadist Foundation, San Francisco/Paris, and the Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Dusseldorf.