The Whitechapel Gallery: The London Open

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The London Open 2015
15 July – 6 September 2015

This year, 20 of the 48 artists featured in the Whitechapel Gallery’s London Open were alumni of the RCA (my new place of study!)

The entrance to the exhibition is demarcated with Connection (2015) a wall painting by Lothar Götz, who graduated from the Painting programme in 1998; meanwhile inside the gallery visitors are greeted by a freestanding brick wall, a work by Demelza Watts, who graduated from Sculpture this year. Watts commissioned her father, a bricklayer, to create the wall in eight hours, which now stands as evidence of his labour. Nearby, the work of Jodie Carey (MA Sculpture, 2007) holds a dominant physical presence in the space, and an installation by one of this year’s Painting graduates, Sophie Mackfall, explores the spatial potential of painting.

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The exhibition also features two moving image works by Lucy Joyce (MA Sculpture, 2013), which document interventions made in the urban environment – in one the artist attempts to cover a bungalow with a billowing golden sheet; also in film is a tense video by Nelmarie Du Preez of a robotic arm, programmed by the artist to repeatedly stab a knife between her spread fingers.

Upstairs, selected works from Guy Patton (MA Painting, 2005) and Dominic Kennedy (MA Painting, 2004) show a similar preoccupation with the surface of their work and the physicality of paint as a material.

Whitechapel_Gallery_The_London_Ope.focus-none.width-1000_AA3jfp1Also in the upstairs gallery hangs Nocturnal Scene from a Swimming Pool (2015) a large canvas by Caroline Walker (MA Painting, 2009); installed in front of Walker’s scene is Cove (2007–15) by Alex Duncan, one of this year’s Sculpture graduates. The work consists of sea- and river-worn polyurethane and polystyrene, which resemble large pebbles and boulders.

Abrasion has also played a part in the creation of Julie Roch-Cuerrier’s work, on display in a vitrine nearby. A copy of a National Geographic atlas lies open, revealing a blank space where the central map has been sanded away, this ‘sand’ is then collected and presented in small plastic pockets. Roch-Cuerrier (MA Printmaking, 2015) explores the vulnerability of the printed image while also addressing the history and politics of map making.

julie-pigments.focus-none.width-1000In the next section of the gallery is a large resin cast of a section of a church wall in Barcelona, scarred by shots and shrapnel from the Spanish Civil War. This forms part of What we still have to talk about(2013), by Marco Godoy (MA Photography, 2014). Like Duncan’s plastic pebbles it simulates an experience with the actual object, exploring the slippery ground between reality and our expectations of it.

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Elsewhere Salvatore Arancio (MA Photography, 2005) works across sculpture, collage, animation and photo etching. On display here are his ceramic objects inspired by nature and science, which explore the grotesque and the natural. Madalina Zaharia (MA Printmaking, 2012) employs a similar approach to Arancio, combining sculptural elements to explore the traditionally two-dimensional discipline of print. Her work phonetically and playfully explores a popular catchphrase from an early 1990s Romanian television advert.


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