With: HOW NOW BROWN COW
In collaboration with
Goldsmiths Visual Cultures Society
Situated under the railway arches in the midst of the hustle and bustle of Peckham, The Chopping Block Gallery is positioned in the heart of an artistic buzz, and you often find yourself surrounded by young creatives – be it art students or professionals – so if you find yourself near Bar Story or Peckham Springs, make sure to have a peek inside (22a Blenheim Grove, SE15 4QN).
Brothers Alex and Tom run this artistic space which is authentically named, ‘THE CHOPPING BLOCK’, serving as a block of space for fluid creative freedom.
The boys’ ambition with this space ‘is to provide an alternative platform for creative, artistic talent – both well known and obscure– across multiple spheres.’
This particular exhibition is based around the theme of spontaneity. Here, the artists are encouraged to challenge the boundaries of artistic expression and experimentation. The works of four carefully chosen Goldsmiths artists inhabit the gallery space and the works included two paintings, two sculptures and a video installation. Through a curatorial lens, each of the five pieces introduce various mediums creating an interesting sense of grouping, as the pieces do not form an immediately perceivable correlation. This variety arguably keeps the viewer engaged, which is further reinforced by a number of different and contrasting colour palettes.
When entering the gallery the first piece you are drawn to is an unusual sculpture. Positioned in the far left corner, (as seen below) it was created by Kirsten Bergman, a Fine Art and Art History student in her final year at Goldsmiths. Upon first impression it emulates a dysfunctional, skeletal toilet comprised of three components: a spindly, metallic seat-like structure, a suspect red plaster wedge and a rich orange-toned block structure with a central hole (for one to metaphorically deposit bodily discharges).
Kirsten Bergman’s Toilet?
This exhibit is not only conceptually humorous but it is also able to transform mundane, everyday circumstances into comical ones. The curator Alex elaborates that many people visiting the gallery ask for the toilet (the normative toilet is positioned outside the gallery, for future reference people!), however this exhibit enables one to direct these toilet-seeking beings to a “toilet” (ie. the exhibit) and therefore interrupt and produce an unexpected parody of one’s unavoidable, daily biological processes.
Opposite ‘the toilet’ you are faced with an intricate, intense and repetitive dot painting. This is the work of Gabriela Adach, a 3rd year History of Art and Fine Art student. This reminds me of the obsessional tendencies and repetitiveness of the ‘Infinity Nets’ by Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama.
Due to its similarity the viewer is enchanted by the interplay between the white and red paint and with each duplicated dot. This piece could inspire feelings of anxiety due to its similarity to a potential visual hallucination.
Gabriela Adach’s Painted Dot
On the floor, towards the front of the gallery space, is Fine Art student Sebastian Sochan’s mixed-media sculpture. This block-like sculpture exposes its creamy-coloured plaster consistency and also has a few other bits of small and brightly coloured materials poking out of it.
This piece shares the abstracted and insular forms characteristic of works by Donald Judd and Henry Moore. What’s more, Sebastian’s sculpture could be considered an anti-sculpture (if this term could mean opposed to “traditional” sculpture) in relation to its design and nature. Arguably this piece does not exploit the full potential of the medium of sculpture. This is in the sense that its textural surfaces – which appear to have been marked by the artist’s fingertips – are relatively flat in comparison to more traditional sculpture which largely tends to imitate naturalistic three-dimensional forms. Also its primary, creamy colour and overall shape is reminiscent of a canvas and therefore it arguably imbricates the boundaries between the normatively disassociated mediums of painting and sculpture.
Sebastian Sochan’s Sculpture
Lastly we come to Fine Artist Antonio Lopez with his two pieces demonstrating contrasting effects. The first of these is an installation of a ‘Brown Cow’, which can, at one’s will, be indirectly linked to the exhibition’s title. The video visualises two people embodying a ‘Brown Cow’ walking around in a claustrophobic white walled room, similar to the gallery space. This video, to me, generates feelings of solitude and entrapment, particularly in how the ‘Brown Cow’ repeatedly appears to bash his head into the wall.
Antonio’s Lopez’s Video of the ‘Brown Cow’ and painting
The second piece of Antonio’s, positioned adjacent to the video, was his rectangular vividly pigmented oil painting. This piece brings together the colour scheme of the room perfectly and against the painted white walls its loud colour scheme really draws your attention into its detail.
The visual- onomatopoeia explosion this piece expresses reminds me of the transition from Surrealism to Abstract Expressionism in Art History (which can be seen specifically in Jackson Pollock’s early painting Male and Female 1942-3). This is demonstrated in Antonio’s use of fluid lines and shapes against more abstracted patches of colour.
To conclude, I thoroughly enjoyed the variety of young talent shown in this intimate exhibit – keep your eyes peeled for more…
Check out ‘The Chopping Block’s’ website: http://thechoppingblockgallery.co.uk/about/
and Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/thechoppingblockgallery/
to keep updated with their critically engaging monthly exhibition’s carefully curated by founders Tom and Alex.
Signing out with a Moo as the Cow would say….