Laura Roughneen is postgraduate researcher studying the international contemporary art market and a fine art graduate with a key interest in the portrayal of artists at fairs. Here are three artists that peaked her interest at Frieze:
According to the gallery “The name Caliban refers to a character in William Shakespeare’s “The Tempest” and is an anagram of the word “cannibal”. As a native living on an exotic island Caliban experiences a colonial domination from the shipwrecked Prospero who enslaves him.”
Set in a tropical environment, Varelas’ works include large-scale hybrid characters of man, woman or animal acting as paradoxes of alienation in a culture of fixed male and female identities. Familiar objects and characteristics become strange and unsettling. According to the gallery “the use of the mask and animation of the objects have a symbolic and spiritual value in many colonized cultures.” Appropriating imagery from diverse sources, Varelas’ work is a contemporary and humorous commentary on “everyday life experiences of hierarchical divisions.”
If you’re still in London, Varelas has selected mixed media collage work on show at The Saatchi Gallery until November 3rd.
Matt Mullican was on show alongside his former professuer John Baldessari at Mai 36. While Mullican has had recent press for his large and fascinating drawing installation at the Venice Biennale this year, Mai 36 presented an understated yet impressive selection of works including a selection of 9 gouache on handmade paper works exploring some of the most fundamental elements to Mullican’s work. What is special to me about these works is that they give a glimpse into Mullican’s artistic process.
According to Mai 36, Mullican has
“developed a complex system of symbols consisting of various pictograms and colors as a means of tackling the question of the structure of the world, and with his system he aims to portray in symbols every aspect of the human condition in different combinations.”
Stemming from circa 1982, these small works shown together resemble cells of the elements intrinsic to Mullican’s practice in form, colour exploration and symbolism. Unlike much of the big’n’bold work we see at art fairs, this quiet presentation entices the viewer to engage and question the artist’s practice as a means of understanding his oeuvre.
In the Frame section, LA based gallery Various Small Fires were showing Andrea Longacre-White. Exploring the tension between analog and digital, Longacre-White scans the ipad, confusing the sensor when the light touches the responder and capturing the scroll of the page, creating a visualization of the digital space between. Remnants of person and touch remain on the pad scans created in the artist’s studio, reminding the viewer of the human presence in the technological atmosphere. Rihzome captured a wonder aspect of her work beautifully in an interview:
You wrote a text to accompany an exhibition at West Street Gallery where you describe the haptic process of scanning – running your fingers over the papers and the plexi and end with the amazingly simple line: “my scanner never gets cleaned.” Is there something about the indexical nature of technology that interests you – like Freud’s mystic writing pad? Would you describe your work as an attempt to reveal or conceal those fingerprints?
ALW: Freud’s mystic writing pad is a beautiful analogy, as there are endless (at times imperceptible) traces of past workings, use, and action on my prints and in my images. How information moves, morphs, is abridged, footnoted, reworked, gains artifacts, is lost, is rediscovered all frustrates and inspires me.