May-September 2017 Turner Contemporary Margate
Phyllida Barlow and Michael Armitage alongside the MASK prize.
This exhibition is part of the ‘Art inspiring change’ project, where Margate primary school children have been working on injecting art to neglected parts of the town. The statement is of how important creativity is and how it can empower us to make a positive change. Central Margate is one of the most deprived areas in the UK, so encouraging children within this project should set up the foundations for positive change to carry on into adulthood.
Phyllida Barlow is currently representing Britain at the Venice biennale (2017). She makes large sculptures from everyday materials which are painted, texturised and cantilevered into positions of leaning into space.
Michael Armitage works make up a collection called Peace Coma. All the work was painted on Lubugo bark cloth and a video explains the laborious task of adapting this material ready for painting or its traditional purpose of wrapping it around the dead ready for burial. His work is a powerful reminder of the political and cultural attitudes in Kenya society and constructs his work using western art history. For example ‘The Balcony’ , 2013 (private collection) is a reimagined Manet ‘The Balcony’ (1868) which represents the cultural spirit of Modernity in Paris. Armitage work shows, not a fashionable middle class Flaneur but a lone Nairobi, lost in a world surrounded by advertisements; one being for M-PESA, a pioneered technology in Kenya to enable customers to make money transfers by phone. This work correlates with Phyllida Barlow ‘Towers of strength’ which is her rendition of a Balcony today. Where the Flaneur was represented by Gustave Coillebotte as looking out into Paris, The viewer being viewed while viewing is a cycle; of reality and imaginary. The creator of the scene but not creating the scene. Phyllida Barlows work is how the balcony today is just a phantom of a balcony, we see them everywhere in the city but they are no longer used or have been constructed aesthetically in a way so they will not be used, seen but not in use. A hint at a statement about society. Its extremely interesting that the image of a structure such as a balcony can have affiliations with such a variety of ideas.
I first saw the work by Phyllida Barlow at the ‘Entangled exhibition’ called ; untitled brockenshelf2015, 2015 made from timber, plywood, steel , fabric, PVAs, cement, tape, plaster , 120x300x110 cm. At first I was taken by the size and how far the messy colourful protruded into the room , almost like it shouldn’t have been there because it did look like something found in the bin after a carnival. I looked at this curiously , and if this was shown along side her other works such as untitled: holder 2014, it would have looked less bulky and roughly constructed and more playful. It was displayed next to the absolutely delicate floating works of Christiane Lohr. The contrast was very vivid and the reason was exhibiting the range of works created by women.
Barlow has always drawn and enjoys the freedom of Marks on the page, she has always worked these along side her sculptures but she tends to reuse her sculptures but her drawings date back to the 1960’s. In the exhibition you are able to see her progression through her drawings.
Barlow explains her progression of her later works;
…”trying to enjoy a lack of resolution, to enjoy a kind of sculptural sensibility”, and “just enjoying the quality of the paint, and moving it around on the paper”. (Exhibition notes)
References all cited on the 27th of August 2017