On the Immense and the Numberless. Opening January 22.
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On the Immense and the Numberless

Opening January 22. 17.00 - 20.00
January 22 - February 20

Valérie Collart

Alex Da Corte

Graham Dolphin

Mark Flood

Ryan Gander

Graham Gussin

Jenny Källman

Ivan Navarro

Oliver Payne

Ugo Rondinone

Karl. T. Sandegård

Michael Simpson

John Stezaker

Ryan Gander, Porthole to Culturefield Revisited
On the Immense and the Numberless is an investigation of a personal obsession. A visual essay laid out as a way for me to examine thoughts I’ve had for around 20 years. Where does art exist and how do we enter that place. The works in the exhibition are chosen specifically for the various ways in which they offer access to or suggest the presence of this metaphorical place where art exists. In many Quattrocento paintings (Ugolino di Nerio, Duccio, Giotto etc) there is a cliff edge which runs along the bottom edge of the painting. It places the action of the painting on a kind of stage, from which we, the viewer, are separated, as if looking across a ravine. What does this mean? Possibly the device of the cliff edge is used to demarcate a sacred space, holy ground, which we can witness from our secular world but not enter. Maybe? I see it more as a way to define a space in which art happens. Where the rules are different from the real world. Literature, poetry, cinema, music etc inhabit the same space. In the paintings of Carlo Crivelli (Italy 1430? – 1495) the paintings are often set in spaces made of marble. The Madonna sits holding the baby Christ on a marble throne. The marble is cracked and broken. Above the seated figures festoons of fruit are held in place by nails driven into the marble. So, where is this scene taking place? In heaven surely the marble wouldn’t be broken and cracked. On earth you wouldn’t casually hammer a nail into a marble throne to temporarily hold decorative fruit. The only place this makes any sense is in painting, in a space where the rules of everyday logic hold no deterrent to the artists imagination. An ideaspace. This exhibition finally came to realisation through reading The KLF, Chaos, Magic and the Band that Burned a Million Pounds by John Higgs. Alan Moore, applying his theory of Ideaspace proposes that through the act of destroying the money The KLF inadvertently triggered the global financial crisis. Up to that point money had been seen as invulnerable. By burning such a huge amount of money it’s fragility entered Ideaspace from where it blazed it’s way through the world's financial markets. Moore’s theory suggests that events originating in Ideaspace can affect the real world, that ideas become form. 

On the Immense and the Numberless brings together works which take this other place, the place where art exists, as their subject matter or reveal it’s presence as immanent within the work. The works in On the Immense and Numberless will puncture the space of the gallery, opening up its true function of giving us access to the place where art exists. 

David Risley

Duccio, Betrayal of Christ from The Maesta, 1308

Mark Flood, Yellow Temple, acrylic on canvas, 183 x 122 cm

Michael Simpson, Unnamed (confessional), Oil on Canvas, 262 x 160 cm

Jenny Källman, The Message, pigment print, 120 x 88 cm 

Ugo Rondinone, Window, Lithograph, 92 x 68 cm

Valerie Collart, Black Hole, Painted MDF, pure black pigments 180-90 x 244 x 20 cm

Ivan Navarro, Ecco (Brick), neon light, mirror, one-way mirror, bricks and electric energy, 182 cm (diamètre) x 82 cm

John Stezaker, Tabula Rasa XXXIII, Collage, 23 x 29 cm


Michael Simpson
Flat Surface Painting
Opening at Spike Island, Bristol
Preview: Friday 15 January, 6–9pm
Free coach from London to Bristol for preview, limited numbers. 
Email to reserve a seat

Preview: Friday 15 January, 6–9pm

Michael Simpson makes large scale paintings in ongoing series that repeat and rework a number of key elements. Flat Surface Painting is his largest exhibition to date. Rooted in a fascination with fifteenth century Venetian and early Flemish painting, and inflected by the formal restraint and reduced palette of Minimalism, Simpson has developed a distinctive, darkly comedic artistic vocabulary with which to create works that move beyond their subject matter to question the nature of painting itself. 

Included in the exhibition are works from Simpson’s Bench Painting series (1989–2009), originally intended as an homage to the Italian Renaissance philosopher Giordano Bruno. Burnt at the stake for heresy in Rome in 1600, he is regarded as the last great medieval thinker, a martyr to a fully secular freedom of thought, and is known for his vision of an infinite universe and for realising the full implication of the Copernican Revolution — the discovery that the earth revolves around the sun, rather than sitting at the centre of the solar system. Several of the bench paintings directly reference Bruno through the inclusion of titles of his books or the date of his death. Increasingly Simpson has come to see these as vanitas paintings that symbolise the transience of life. The bench itself often takes on a coffin-like form in paintings in which the human body is always absent.

Bruno’s fatal clash with the Catholic Church exemplifies the cruelty too often found in religious history, an enduring theme in Simpson’s work. Other series take as their subject architectural motifs associated with organised religion: pulpits or the Islamic minbar, confessional boxes and leper squints (holes in medieval church walls built to allow sufferers of leprosy and other “undesirables” to listen to a sermon without sitting amongst the congregation).

To look at many of Simpson’s paintings is to see-saw between abstraction and representation, between depth and flatness. The artist’s key motifs are reduced to their essential geometry and situated in similarly pared-down environments. Forms float, apparently suspended in space; elsewhere light, shadow and perspective root objects to the ground. Similarly, the precisely wrought illusion in some works gives way to a much looser rendering of the image in others. The use of larger than life-size scale of many of these works engenders a strong physical engagement; a sense that we could literally step into these exact yet indeterminate spaces. Simpson calls attention to the mechanics of painting, the deceptive force of the constructed image.

Michael Simpson

Michael Simpson (b.1940) lives and works in Wiltshire. He studied at Bournemouth College of Art (1958-60) and Royal College of Art, London (1960-63).

Selected past solo exhibitions include:Study #6, David Roberts Arts Foundation, London (2014); The Leper Squint Paintings 2012 – 13, David Risley Gallery, Copenhagen (2013); Michael Simpson presented by David Risley Gallery, Volta, New York (2008); Bench Paintings - Recent Paintings 2005-2006, David Risley Gallery, London (2007); Michael Simpson, The Tithe Barn, Bradford on Avon (2005); Bench Paintings 1992-1995, Arnolfini Gallery, Bristol and Oriel Davies, Newtown (1996); Recent paintings, Serpentine Gallery (1985); Paintings 1980-1983, Arnolfini Gallery Bristol (1983); Six Large Paintings, Bristol Museum and Art Gallery (1973).

Forthcoming group exhibitions include: Reinventing Representation, White Cube, London, (2015); The Painting Show,The British Council (touring exhibition) (2015); Group exhibition, David Risley Gallery, (2016).

Past group exhibitions include: Absence (Looking for Hammershøi), David Risley Gallery, Copenhagen (2015); Serge Stauffer - Kunst Als Forschung, Helmhaus Zürich (2013); John Moores 16, 17 and 18 exhibitions of contemporary painting, Liverpool (1987, 1989, 1991). 

Copyright © 2016 David Risley Gallery, All rights reserved.

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