14/55 at Gem Space

A new phenomenon called triple “S” Sunday took me to London this week to see the exhibition 14/55, specifically the work of emerging artist Chloe Manasseh, at Gem Space in Dalston Junction – a new affordable studio and exhibition space for young and emerging artists.

On show until the 23rd January 2014, 14/55 is a group exhibition featuring the work of twelve London-based artists – Daniel Blumberg, Jennifer Caroline Campbell, Theo Ellison, Sally Kindberg, Chloe Manasseh, Martynas Noreika, Netta Peltola, Rose Robson, Andrius Svilys, Pascale Wilson, Batsheva Ziser and Ron Ziser. The show takes its name from the year and location of its conception – 2014, 55 Dalston Lane – and features a broad-based, mixed media display of wall and floor-based, 2-D and 3-D works also including sound and moving image. This exhibition also marks the opening of Gem Space, therefore its first exhibition.

Not knowing much about the space or the exhibition I was looking blind as such, uninformed, which if often a good thing as I don’t get pre-distracted. As expected, largely due to location and the “emerging artist” aspect of the exhibition, the space is within a warehouse, rough around the edges, in thick of East London and alongside industrial units (and funnily enough backing onto my best friends studio!). Gem Space still seems very much in progress in terms of construction, perhaps intentional(?), with a wealth of potential considering it’s size and location. There was a clear curatorial dichotomy – the exhibition was perhaps impacted by this “in progress” attitude to the space, which interfered in part with some of the works, yet for others, in terms of intervention of space, reinforced their structure and form.

There are artists in the show that I would say are working from typical strands of undergraduate and postgraduate fine art practice…those strands you see appear during in a year group when you teach…from photorealism, feminist sculpture with naked body casting thrown in, taxidermy and decay, renegotiations of what mark-making-drawing is and should be, sculptures from found objects and minimal forms, typographic and linguistic reinventions…I could go on, and on…we know them, we acknowledge them, and it’s all part of the fine art (education) and artistic process. What it comes down to is how you use this basis, this area of inquiry, to ask new questions…how you develop a new personal (and confident) relationship to it, with it, for your audience(s)…or just for yourself…which is what the artists in this show are presenting – their confidence. Exhibitions of this kind are worth visiting and revisiting, and if possible to talk to the artists. You never quite know where their practice might lead.

Chloe Manasseh‘s work, oil on canvas paintings, shown in images seven to nine below – ‘Taking a nap, feet planted’ (2014) (L) and ‘In the world outside’ (2014) – present precursive mark-making, a strength in painterly drawing on the canvas surface to portray memories of organic, natural and cellular landscapes influenced by Matsuo Basho’s Haiku. Her use of colour and limited palette, this chromatic definition, further interprets Basho’s work by adding a layer of fluidity…a sensitivity with and to the materials and subject. You can see through her online portfolio how her practice is starting to take a more instinctive approach, become more unhinged with emotional influence…more of a personal engagement with her tools, a connection to the partial abstraction of her subject matter. I’d like to see more drawings from her as I feel that this greater freedom might bring more distinct mark-making. Chloe is currently MFA Slade School of Fine Art…and I’ll be interested to see her final show next summer.

“My aim is to produce an immersive experience in a borderless landscape that has the ability to both overwhelm and destabilize the viewer, whilst at the same time allowing them to identify with the imagery in their own way, drawing on their own experiences – a painting that is as much a mindscape as it is landscape.” – Chloe Manasseh

Gem Space 7

Gem Space 5

Gem Space 6

Gem Space 4

Gem Space 1

Gem Space 2

Gem Space 3

Chloe Manasseh 1

Chloe Manasseh 2

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