Thursday, 31 May 2012

In Between - Gallery@49, Bracknell

A solo show by Swiss artist Angelika Steiger, who lives in Maidenhead, is the latest exhibition to fill the space at Gallery@49 in Bracknell town centre.  She introduces us to the exhibition by stating "Personal experiences and memories play an important role in how we perceive the world around us.  They intensify our feelings and emotions, thereby giving our lives meaning and richness.  My work involves a diary-like approach towards places-in-between, the absence and the presence, the fullness and the void."  She goes on to say she is pursuing the redefinition of invisible worlds, placing them in between dreams and reality through a variety of media and techniques. This is evident in the diversity and abundance of work filling the gallery space.

A painter by training, Angelika is exploring sculptural form in this exhibition with varying levels of success.  She uses fibrous materials in spherical shapes, adding light and colours, to encourage the viewer to look inside or seek out the hidden space.  But the main work in the exhibition which dominates the gallery and captures the eye are the large colour-field paintings reminiscent of Mark Rothko or Kenneth Noland.  In these paintings Angelika uses subtle shifts of pigment with juxtaposed blocks of colour separated only by a thin line of luminescent light. It conjures up thoughts of cracks through time or a fracture to reality, a dream world which is trying to spill out or perhaps seduce you in.

'IN BETWEEN - RED' by Angelika Steiger

Friday, 18 May 2012

Open Studios - New Greenham Arts, Newbury

It's that time of year again when many of the regional artists open their studio doors and invite the public to come in, have a look around, and perhaps even buy some original artwork.  The venues range from home studios, to the shed in the garden, to one off small spaces amongst other small businesses.  There are a few larger shared spaces where a number of artists will have working studios with an exhibition space included, a great way to see a range of work.

One such place is the New Greenham Arts venue, part of the Corn Exchange, just south of Newbury in West Berkshire.  In their rather spacious exhibition space they brought together one or two works by all the artists exhibiting in the West Berkshire and North Hampshire 2012 Open Studios, a rather daunting feat.  Its the traditional salon hang, trying to fit in a great deal of work in a somewhat logical and visually appealing manner, my congratulations to the organisers for what must have been a challenging exercise.

The work varies from the traditional to the decorative with just about every type of media on display. You can easily get visual overload in this type of exhibition so I have found I just focus in on what captures my eye.  The textile works were the most intriguing for me, they challenged the perception of textile art with very painterly renderings of the stitched mark.  The work I found myself returning to several times was that of Gill Banks, using a limited colour palette her work captures an eroded surface with a beauty and depth that many of the paintings in the exhibition lacked.

Detail of work by Gill Banks

Running alongside this group gallery exhibition is the actual Open Studios of Studio8, the 10 artists that have studios in the building. This is where it got really interesting, though there was still lots of formal 'displays' of the individual artists work, it was the aspect of seeing behind the scenes.  Some of the spaces are quite small, jammed with paint pots or other paraphernalia of their particular medium.  And here the less 'commercial' work or works that were just steps in the creative process, the 'stream of conscience' as studio artist Sally Haynes explained it, can be seen.