Contemporary British art
Haluk Akakce, Phillip Allen, Anna Barriball, David Batchelor, Martin Boyce, Roger Hiorns, Marine Hugonnier, Hilary Lloyd, Toby Paterson, Alex Pollard, Eva Rothschild, DJ Simpson, John Wood and Paul Harrison.
An echo is a reflection of something that has gone before, a repetition of circumstances connected with earlier ones. Echo Room is a new exhibition of contemporary British art, curated for Alcalá 31 by Victoria Combalía in close collaboration with the British Council; but it is also an exhibition that attempts to show some of the prevailing themes that have emerged amongst British artists over the past decade, and to relay them with new emphasis to audiences beyond the shores of the United Kingdom.
The exhibition does not try to make sweeping statements about what is hip or not; or what are the general trends of the decade. Rather, it addresses some of the concerns that have emerged as salient themes over recent years, and to do so by introducing the work of fourteen highly acclaimed, and highly individualistic artists.
JJ Charlesworth has provided an inspired account of the unique and shared exhibition histories of the artists included in Echo Room, and the 240 page catalogue also includes a text by curator Victoria Combalía. All of the artists have given great thought and attention to the selection of their work in the show, and have also helped to amplify this by providing a range of illustrations to represent their practice.
Some artists, such as Phillip Allen, Anna Barriball and Eva Rothschild, are represented by a group of paintings, drawings and sculptures respectively, to give a rounded sense of their individual practices, as well as to help understand the correspondences between them. Others, such as Marine Hugonnier, are represented by a more pointed and singular selection, while Toby Paterson has made a new installation specially for Alcalá 31, a converted Art Déco bank situated in the heart of this fabulous city.
The exhibition also includes some quite extraordinary inventions, from the hand-crafted ceramic elements of Roger Hiorns’ foam-producing sculptures, to the huge routed wood relief paintings of DJ Simpson, and David Batchelor’s spectacularly coloured chandelier. The exhibition is framed against the backdrop of Haluk Akakçe’s animated drawing introducing moments of introspection and melancholy, reflected also in the worn Jacobson chairs of Martin Boyce’s mobile and Hilary Lloyd’s slide-projected portraits of Sarah. Alex Pollard employs the tools of a draughtsman’s studio to create whimsical wall paintings from old wooden measuring sticks cast in bronze, and to making site-specific drawings. Meanwhile the homespun DIY aesthetic of Wood and Harrison’s sight-gags are shot on film in sequences of slapstick abstraction.
Image: Phillip Allen, Beezerspline (Light Version) (2002)
Collection of Jake Miller and Jean Thomas, London, courtesy the Approach, London. Copyright the artist/Photo: FXP, London
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