In Quotes: collage and assemblage in contemporary art

17 March - 19 May 2018


Social media has made ventriloquists of us all - through our online profiles and timelines we speak in quotations, found images, videos and music, each of us creating a unique assemblage that expresses an individual sense of self. Speaking through found media has become a shared language, a common tongue. Collage, as a medium, has never been more relevant.


Thinking about the ubiquity of this new form of assemblage offers us a lens through which we might consider, or reconsider, artworks made in the medium of collage. Clement Greenberg's seminal text, Collage, attributed the invention of the technique to Georges Braque and Pablo Picasso - in its relatively short history how has the medium changed, and how has our reading of it changed? In a world saturated with images, how do contemporary artists arrest our insatiable consumption of images? Greenberg observed that the technique's "flatness of the surface permeates the illusion, and the illusion itself reasserts the flatness. The effect is to fuse the illusion with the picture plane without derogation of either - in principle."1


This exhibition will present works by a range of contemporary artists working with collage and assemblage, across generations, made both pre and post internet.


"I have gathered a posy of other men's flowers, and nothing but

the thread that binds them is my own:"2


In TIM DAVIES' series of sanded postcards 'Bridges' are meticulously removed from their contexts, their surroundings delicately excised. CRISTINA GARRIDO, by contrast, seeks to remove all but context in her series 'Veil of Invisibility', painstakingly painting over the artworks depicted in a group of postcards purchased from museum gift shops. Among the 22 postcards that Garrido has overpainted is a piece by SUSAN HILLER, one of Britain's most influential artists, whose 1983 work 'Towards an Autobiography of Night', included in IN QUOTES, is the earliest work in the exhibition. The 12 C-type photographs are enlargements of postcards depicting rough seas of the British coast, hand painted by Hiller with gold ink, and explore the transformation of materials, the tradition of the sublime and homage to the unknown photographers and artists of the original postcards.

Hiller's influence can be seen in HOLLY STEVENSON's 'Palmy Bonheur' works, which have been framed with reference to the format of another of Susan Hiller's seminal postcard works. Stevenson is interested in the philosophical argument that art is a promise of happiness and her work is concerned with symbols and materials that reference Bonheur. Stevenson's use of bright floral imagery is echoed in the work of ALEX MARCH, whose collages combine flowers with antique studio portraits and explore themes of removal, concealment, revelation and what those strategies might hint at. Also combining floral and figurative imagery, REBECCA BYRNE's collages are from a series entitled 'Free Frieze'. Constructed from promotional printed magazines given away to visitors of the Frieze Art Fair, the compositions are mounted onto the back of exhibition invitations sent out by commercial galleries. Byrne's works play with the temporality of printed matter that was originally produced to promote established works of art to produce new works of art.

The photomontages by LINDER also depict flowers - dancers whose heads have been replaced with roses, and a man and woman with their eyes obscured by blooms. A pioneering feminist artist, Linder's work calls into question the politics of gender and the commodification of the human body. SHARON KIVLAND's series MOI, 2016/17 shares a dialogue with Linder's exploration of the representation of women, in a group of hand drawn straplines taken from magazines of the 1950s. In contrast to Kivland's elevation of quoted text, ROWENA HUGHES' sculpture 'Undue Flexure' denies the viewer access to the text contained within the reference books that she has bound with elastic bands to form an assemblage that explores the status of books as objects in a post internet age. The transformation of books is also explored in a group of collages by ANN-MARIE JAMES. Constructed from the pages of a first edition of André Malraux's seminal work 'Le Musée Imaginaire', James uses a variety of techniques to create her own imaginary museum; pages are woven together, punched with holes, or a single page is cut and folded to partially reveal the image on the other side.

This interest in obscuring and revealing elements of an image is central to JOHN STEZAKER's 'Masks' series, in which the facial features of stars in film publicity portraits are overlaid with found postcards depicting landscapes, creating new meanings and characters. This minimalist approach to the layering of imagery is shared by JORGE DE LA GARZA, whose collages combine a range of imagery including sphinxes from gravestones in Attica, women's bodies, astronomical phenomena and references to commodities in everyday life. Taking this minimalist approach further is MIKE GODDARD, who uses images from fashion magazines to create a gap or fissure in them with a single diagonal cut. The main subject is all but removed, drawing attention instead to the backdrops and studios behind them. Sparse elements such as hair and shadows are left behind like clues.


IN QUOTES is curated by Ann-Marie James, in collaboration with Gerald Moore Gallery and is supported by Karsten Schubert, London.