Tokyo in the Fall: Jonathan Baldock, Richard Forbes-Hamilton, Sophie Michael, Fay Nicolson, Christopher Orlando Page, Henrik Potter

10 - 24 May 2014

Dear H,

…a quick mail before I head out for the day to explore. The room's nice, familiar, even generic. I feel as if I've slept in this bed before, stared at these magnolia walls, hung my coat in the same Ikea wardrobe in London, Rome, Seoul, Tokyo. Yet the scent is different, Jasmin? And as I write, the shadow of a cherry tree falls across the room. Wish you could be here to see this.

Fx

Hey F,

I think I have, but I'm not sure when, or even how. Have you read Your Face Tomorrow by Javier Marias? The first one…Fever and Spear. Problematic, but I think there's a line that is really important.

"(I had to train my memory to distinguish what was true from what was imagined, what really happened from what was assumed to have happened, what was said from what was understood)"

Do you understand? I don't think I do. I'll lend you the book when you get home.

Hx

 

In Tokyo in the Fall we set the scene; a distant context that takes its name from Christopher Orlando Page's work. In this painting, a wardrobe is realistically rendered and affected by fictional shadows. Its title ignores the artwork as object and instead positions it (as well as the artist and viewer) as subjects within an imagined and exoticised context. A scenario subject to myth, conjecture, stereotype.

We are now in a space with multiple functions and histories - like a stage or film set. We can entertain our desire to escape, and fool our eyes into reading images and objects as moments in another narrative. This space acknowledges a Western wistfulness for the orient, a history of appropriation. We feel a closeness to something we have never even seen or experienced, as distant cultural codes are copied, mutate, circulate, become vernacular.

 

Richard Forbes-Hamilton's paintings abstract the form of the Kimono, reducing the qualities of this ceremonial Japanese garment into an image; a geometric delineation between pattern and colour, positive and negative space. These works emerge from Forbes-Hamilton's interest in the significance of traditional Japanese art (particularly ukiyo-e) to certain European painters in the mid-late 19th century, and in turn negotiate his own relationship to both of these visual histories.

Within this scene a role play begins; the making of identities through separating pieces of a larger cultural edifice from their whole, stitching them into new composite characters. Tokyo in the Fall brings together two sculptures by Jonathan Baldock, originally made for different installations. Both works are reminiscent of figurative sculpture (from classical bust to modern abstract nude), but each uses a different material language; the soft patchwork felt of The Player (2011) sits in contrast to the synthetic hair and fake pearls of Regality (The Seaside) (2010). At once bizarre, humorous, grotesque and melancholy, these works are like masked performers in a commedia dell'arte.

The mask as a prop and visual strategy is also explored by Sophie Michael. In Astrid's Masks the artist and her young collaborator demonstrate decorative mask making and experiment with camera masks using a matte box. Filmed over a weekend, the script is written as they go along and authorship is shared, as direction comes from in front of and behind the camera. This is the 4th film in a series that uses Astrid as a subject. Michael's 16mm films animate constructed spaces, referencing early visual music and 1970s educational films. The medium and atmosphere of her work stir up anachronisms and skip generations, embracing nostalgia as a tool for exploring the now.

Henrik Potter and Fay Nicolson are interested in the mask and screen as a structure, and have both created site-specific pieces that augment the gallery's existing interior architecture; works that are object and image, background and setting.

Nicolson's Caryatid (variations) are long, repetitive screen prints draped over the existing lighting rig. Caryatid (variations) developed from an interest in renaissance and modern art education, architecture and textiles and continue Nicolson's fascination with the interplays between surface and structure, image and pattern. A Caryatid is a sculpted female figure that acts as a column or a pillar to provide architectural support. These were common in Ancient Greece and revived in the design of renaissance and early modern buildings.

Henrik Potter's piece Any Port in a Stormor The Stutterer, or I will help you with this, or, is a subtle intervention into the experience of the gallery space. Potter's interest in the everyday generation of importance and meaning is here used in service to the work of others, and to serve his own interest in gestures of usefulness and significance.

 

Tokyo in the Fall is an exhibition that grew out of conversations between Fay Nicholson and Henrik Potter