Let's sit down and talk about it is an exhibition by London based artists, Fay Nicolson and David Ben White. This experimental project has grown around a series of discussions on décor, design, taste, domestic space, modern ideals and personal histories. For Let's sit down and talk about it the artists present an installation of new works. Paintings, sculptures, prints and furniture are choreographed within the gallery to evoke other possible times and spaces.
David Ben White presents a new body of work, collectively titled The Fabrication of Pleasure. This builds on White's fascination with coded spaces (whether domestic, institutional or corporate) whilst invoking the legacy and contemporary mutations of modernism. White's grandmother, Elizabeth Benjamin, was a first-generation modernist architect, and he returns to this personal relationship as a source of tension within his own re-reading of the Modern.
The Fabrication of Pleasure paintings depict domestic interiors, tastefully furnished with recognisably iconic chairs from the modernist canon. White layers opposing visual systems; a grid fractures our understanding of perspectival space, carving the image into units. Colours clash. Depicting the diagrammatic with the perspectival, the paintings create ambiguous, in-between images that connect between order over disorder. The smooth, industrial surface erupts into moments of messy impasto, which White achieves through his experimental approach to mixing materials within the paint.
White's sculptures incorporate domestic and institutional furniture, including household lamps, kitchen stools, and commercial castors. These elements are subsumed under undulating layers of Plaster of Paris. Their pale surfaces, starved of gloss or patina, give the work a ghost-like presence. These pieces suggest the iconography of modernist sculpture and architecture, but are reduced in scale and grandiosity. The sculptures appear impoverished and anaemic, undermining the aesthetic of the institutional space that contains them.
Fay Nicolson has developed a new body of work experimenting with forms, materials and processes. These works depart from Nicolson's fascination with modern textile design and art educational models; particularly Anni Albers' book 'Selected Writings on Design', which explores the textile as a structured image and the need to learn through first-hand experience with materials.
Script (blue draft) and Script (pastel draft) are image/sculptures made from 2 parts: long rolls of painted paper and wooden pegs (that act as supporting nodes to give the work form and rhythm). These pieces are completed in the gallery and are flexible, contingent, and open to future re-arrangement. The Scripts are reminiscent of networks, scrolls, excessive film spools or hand writing. Nicolson is interested in the possibility of creating an image that can be read from different perspectives, as flat planes of colour are seen side-on, in a loosely structured painting.
Work that cannot fail to be made and Work that gets better through repetition are part of a new series of prints on canvass. Patterns are layered, weaved and repeated. Rippling, striped fabric and digital paint marks are screen printed, interleaving with patches of painted colour. This limited series of gestures forms an evolving language that will continue to develop in future works. Repetition is a key strategy is Nicolson's practice connecting 'making' to work and labour, but also to learning and the acquisition of skill. The Work that… pieces are in a state of flux, potentially unfinished. In this exhibition they are overlaid with test pieces and experiments from Nicolson's studio, including ceramic objects and paper sprayed with water colour.