Northern Art Prize preview, Leeds Art Gallery

James Hugonin, Binary Rhythm (detail)

James Hugonin, Binary Rhythm (detail)

Leo Fitzmaurice has done something really clever. He has taken old, rarely seen landscape paintings from the archives of the gallery and put them together in such a way as to create an extended horizon line out of them all. It’s a mash-up of representational art, initially put together using digital software, then by physically hanging the paintings. He’s produced a new work out of old works, but what I really like is the fact that all the paintings used are beautiful works in themselves; traditional painting still has a formidable power to move.

James Hugonin is a painter but a non-representational one. His meticulous blocks of colour remind me of those once popular abstract pictures where you had to de-focus your eyes to see a 3D representational image hidden in the colours. No amount of de-focusing on my part was going to reveal any more insight into his works however. I was impressed with the prodigious amount of work needed to create these works. I could almost imagine James feeling the need to do these paintings in a 90 degree heat so that he physically has to sweat as he applies the colours, such is his commitment to his work. I couldn’t make sense of why he has put certain colours where he has though—I felt I was looking at some epidemiological chart that wanted to tell me something if only I could divine the causes for the results. It’s as if he were studying the very DNA of painting itself and he was mapping its genome in a painstaking and methodical process.

Richard Rigg’s work did very little for me. On one wall of the gallery is a negative cast of a coat hook, so the space of the hook is inside the wall. I marvelled at the size of the plaster slab that contained the piece and that formed part of the wall but unfortunate comparisons with Rachel Whiteread and her ‘inside out’ house were inevitable. His craftsmanship however, as evidenced by his chairs, is undeniable.

At the preview it was explained to us that Liadin Cooke suffers from synesthesia, a condition which confuses stimuli in the brain, so sound appears as an image etc. This means that Liadin must inhabit a world that is completely alien to most people and I must confess, her work left me cold (or possibly blue). It’s as if she has made visual art for blind people. The collected oil scrapings from an artists palette, cast in bronze but painted to look like putty, is an artwork. Maybe to someone who has synesthesia, this is sensational. Alas, I don’t, so it isn’t.

3 Responses to “Northern Art Prize preview, Leeds Art Gallery”

  1. [...] see people’s reactions to the exhibition. Leeds blogger and oberservationalist Ivor Tymchak has taken a look at the exhibits and articulates his thoughts. BGL gets to see them tonight; we look forwards to seeing how things pan [...]

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