RAW looks at the use of different materials being used in the practice of contemporary artists in a way that clearly embraces the material. The majority of the work has some, if not total abstraction, which directs the viewer to the surface rather than being distracted by a literal narrative.
Each artist, to a certain degree, embraces the constraints of their chosen material, celebrating the raw, natural marks and working with the material, not just on it.
“As machines become more and more efficient and perfect, so it will become clear that imperfection is the greatness of man”. - Ernst Fischer
In an age where art is so frequently seen digitally or reproduced in varying formats the viewer maybe distanced from the tangible attributes of what they are experiencing. In contrast, the artworks in this exhibition demand intimacy from their viewers and encourage us to consider the three dimensional subtleties which can only be experienced from viewing art “in the flesh” and that grow stronger with time.
All the artists featured in this exhibition live and work in major cities around the world. London, NY, Amsterdam and Rome are all urban jungles of varying degrees. These are environments where the ugly and the beautiful live side by side and the line that separates them becomes blurred with time. This show asks one to look at the materials that are the building blocks to the world around us, in a fresh light. The artists involved have responded to these materials as if they were the precious pigments used by the great masters and are asking us to afford them the same respect.
British artist Peter Bailey studied at the Chippendale International School of Furniture, which is where he began to develop his extraordinary technique of using wood veneers to create beautiful and sometimes otherworldly pieces. By layering and sanding varieties of dyed veneers he creates evocative, abstract artworks which belie the materials from which they are made and appear as though they are in fact made from another medium. The use of wood is at the heart of Baily’s practice and his love of the material is omnipresent in every piece. Each work is like a gem that bends and refracts, changing in the light.
Jaap De Vries lives and works in the Netherlands. The materials he chooses to work with, primarily watercolour paint on aluminum create ethereal planes of mirror with colour and light that suggest a world of lucid and playful fantasy. The artist’s work is primarily focused on juxtaposing what he describes as "a world controlled by prohibitions and another, more sacral world: the world of play." Watercolour on aluminum is a naturally unforgiving technique resulting in De Vries having to leave his pieces to dry for days before he can go back to working on them like Bacon working on raw canvases this leaves a very fresh and bold mark.
Erik Sommer is a New York based artist who works with layers upon layers of concrete which seem almost as if they have been cut directly from a decaying, urban environment. His artworks are not intended to represent a precise location or to be a traced replica of any wall that exists in our reality; moreover they are a representation, a homage to the strength and beauty of the material itself. In saying this, Sommer has successfully created the illusion that each of his works has existed for a hundred life times. As Sommer, himself says, he is “capturing the passing of time through the deterioration of texture”.
American born artist Michael Petry is currently the Director of the Museum Of Contemporary Art London and has been the first artist in residence at the Sir John Soane’s museum this year. Working in different mediums such as glass, wood, leather and pearls the artist transforms materials and their cultural value in to sensual installations and sculpture that celebrate male sexuality and desire. Michael Petry lives and works in London.
The art of British artist Eric Butcher represents an attempt at the selective articulation of the surfaces of aluminum structures through the use of paint and resin. A thin transparent monochrome is spread across the surface of aluminium and then stripped off, using a variety of blades and instruments drawn across the surface. This procedure is then repeated, slowly building up an accumulation of residues. The outcome is determined largely by the physical characteristics of the support; the imperfections of the metal surface, the burr of its edge; or shifts in the consistency of the paint/resin mix, or the build up along the edge of the blade as it strips the surface bare. Each tiny imperfection is amplified by the process of stripping, leaving a ridge of denser colour to register its presence, a ‘register of failure’ if you will.