23 May - 12 July 2015
ATOI (Amy Thomas and Oliver Irvine), Kira Freije, Lauren Keeley, Ruaidhri Ryan, Ben Sanderson
Testing Tropes brings together six young artists working in London and Cornwall. Starting from the idea of a ‘trope’, a commonly recurring structure or motif used in art practices such as the figure, the minimal or the classical, the exhibition explores the relationship between these formal structures of the past and how they might be re-considered in the present.
Working across a variety of media including sculpture, painting, print, photography and film, these six artists all display an ability to stretch, question and reinvent our histories and heritage. The resulting work is both familiar and unknown, mapping out patterns between times, places and disciplines.
Cornwall based artist duo ATOI (Amy Thomas and Oliver Irvine) work across sculpture, photography and live performance often incorporating external workforces such as MMA professionals, quarry workers, stone masons and animals. Their work explores the relationship between cause and effect – initially set up and composed by the artists, the work then leaves their control during the live performances that they stage. Projects are also often re-worked and recycled, giving their practice a cyclical nature. For Testing Tropes the artists will be showing a fragment of a previous work made for a nature reserve in Co. Derry, Northern Ireland which was recently vandalised.
Kira Freije is a young sculptor currently working and studying in London at the Royal Academy Schools. Her work combines minimal, formal compositions of steel and fabric with animate, tactile elements such as clothing and physical gestures. Freije’s compositions are often derived from the everyday – the basic structure of a window, or the grab poles on the London Underground – which are then negotiated with an idea of a figure. The cool, detached metal structures that form a basic framework for the work, contrast with the hints and traces of the human Freije inserts. The result is a feeling of loss or absence, a melancholy between the stylised constructions and their emotional content.
Lauren Keeley is a painter and printmaker living and working in London. Her work brings together various processes and materials such as printmaking, laser cutting, woodworking, relief and assemblage to create composite ‘paintings’ that sit somewhere between an image and object. Her work explores image making in a playful way, often disturbing the perimeters of the rectangular frame, and using relief to push and pull pictorial space. Keeley’s compositions are a weaving of her immediate world, past artworks and the fictional spaces she creates using 3D modelling software. The resulting work is both familiar and uncanny with the viewer pulled into a space which is both readable and confusing.
London based film-maker Ruaidhri Ryan makes films that test and question the construction of the image and the artifice behind film production. Informed by his multiple personal roles in film: assistant director, script supervisor, art director, camera assistant, producer, voice-over artist. Ryan plays with this ‘inside knowledge’ in his work, where the carefully constructed film set and narrative is often revealed or undercut, breaking the illusion somewhat. For Testing Tropes, Ryan will be showing a new work Contrapposto, which explores the prevalence of a sculptural format that poses man in his most idealised form. Rooted in classical sculpture and still visible today, Ryan tracks this idealised pose through history, culture and philosophy.
Cornwall based painter and printmaker Ben Sanderson navigates the discipline of painting through the heroic figures he portrays and the array of processes he develops and explores. Often changing course and turning corners, Sanderson’s paintings feel like personal expeditions into figuration and image-making led by whims and changes of attitude. The result is a very open arena of activity with hugely different approaches between the works, creating a dialogue between individual pieces and the figures represented. Sanderson’s work demonstrates an exciting ability to discover, chart and reinvent, finding unusual new spaces in the discipline of painting, a discipline that often feels so well trodden.