Commercial Union House,
Newcastle upon Tyne
Preview: 9 November, 5.30-8.30pm
Some ideas are straight-forward, but others far more complicated then they first seem. Feliks Culpa describes his new exhibition with a single sentence: ‘a dated series of 365 daily drawings derived from Hitchcock’s film, ‘The Birds’. It’s a fascinating proposal that seems simple enough, building on the conceptual calendar idea. Like On Kawara’s Date Paintings or Douglas Gordan’s film ’24 Hour Psycho’ before it, Culpa gives the passing of time a physical, confrontational form.
However, while Kawara and Gordon’s work have a purity to their presentation, Culpa’s project is altogether more human. 365 drawings make for a large exhibition by any measure, their visual weight overwhelming the viewer and emphasising the massive number of man-hours that went into their creation. Devoid of any digital manipulation, these stark charcoal drawings are as analogue as it gets, born from a set of abstract parameters and an artist playing ‘textual poacher’.
‘Overwhelming’ is a word worth repeating in the context of Culpa’s art. To see a room filled with his drawings is a thrilling assault on the senses. Even reading the press release for the exhibition felt like cultural overload, demonstrating the depth and breadth of Culpa’s thinking. Making sense of all this information plays on another basic human trait, ‘the desire to reduce a chaos of experience into some form of order’ (a Graham Greene quote the artist is quite fond of).
At its heart Culpa’s work is a celebration of drawing, spanning heavily worked, unsettling imagery (those birds in the title were quite vicious!) to serene, almost minimalist mark-making. Although inextricably linked to their source material, the intriguing presentation invites reinterpretation and the creation of fresh narratives.
‘A Year of Living Dangerously’ is part of DRAWING, a programme of exhibitions and events throughout Commercial Union House that pose the question: does DRAWING matter? These include new exhibitions ‘Parallel Lives’ and ‘Asparagus’ at Vane, an open studio evening at Incubate Experimental Printmaking and a ‘drop in and draw’ event at Ampersand Inventions.
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