Anissa Mack, Ruairiadh O’Connell, Anna Betbeze, Ellen Lesperance & Liam Everett
6 September – 5 October 2012
Josh Lilley is delighted to announce the opening of Hang Up, a group exhibition featuring Anissa Mack, Anna Betbeze, Ellen Lesperance, Liam Everett, and Ruairiadh O'Connell.
Hang Up brings together five artists whose works discuss the transformative potential of materiality. The exhibition will touch upon the possibilities, intentions or atypical associations such materials have — where the use of fabric, pattern and traditional designs allow for an exploration into each artist's cultural, political, economic, or conceptual process. The show's title comes from a seminal work in the early career of Eva Hesse, where through the seemingly simple addition of a long metal rod to a canvas she transformed a painting into a sculpture. The energy exuded in her work, and the possibilities afforded by such a post-minimalist statement, go some way to articulating the interest in form, scale, colour, exposure, material reproduction and identity that are apparent in the works on display in this show.
Anissa Mack's work investigates memory or nostalgia as a succession of visions recalled with increasing distortion. She is often drawn to objects or motifs from the American vernacular, such as quilts, masks, or needlepoint cross-stitch patterns, elements that in themselves exist as multiples in the world. Her quilt works are based on traditional American craft patterns in which the perspective has been distorted, causing the forms to push and pull from the wall in a slight optical illusion. Her second work in the show is a sculptural cast of a quilt in Aquaresin, standing rigid and upright leaning against the wall. Such a material shift is crucial to her, as the casting becomes a direct, physical impression — the object is "full of itself", and thus takes on the unstable identity of a surrogate form.
Anna Betbeze thinks of her works as material transgressions, drawing on a specific cultural history due to the fact they are enacted on top of used flokati rugs. Concerned with materiality, scale and colour, she transforms the standard-sized mass produced carpets through unnatural and artificial processes. Staining, bleaching, tearing, burning with ash, and dyeing the rugs creates highly saturated and worked-upon surfaces, whose very physicality moves her painterly interventions onto an expanded field.
Ellen Lesperance's works depict certain motifs used to highlight power struggles and women's rights at political movements such as Greenham Common. Her tapestries, drawings, and knitted sweaters become odes and tributes to those who used fabric and design as a means of self-expression and liberation. Investigating the visual symbols and vernaculars employed by female direct action campaigns in order to elicit change, Lesperance discovered a communal motivation in the form of hand-knit sweaters. As an extension of shared ideologies, they became an opportunity for those challenging the status quo to literally embody their common cause. One such knitted work will be exhibited in the exhibition, as well as two meticulous gouache paintings that depict sweater patterns and function as death shrouds or memorials to individuals committed to fighting for causes greater than themselves.
Liam Everett incorporates nontraditional processes onto his work, using salt, alcohol, lemon, and sunlight in order to affect forced exposure onto his material surfaces. His recent works continue his exploration into the perceptual experience, specifically focusing on the motion of light that asserts itself within a spatial constraint. His fabric paintings are soaked, stained and dried, and methods of support then vary from poplar beams leaning onto the wall to more traditional masonite panels or stretcher bars. Erasure, layering and exposure are continual themes within his process.
For the works in Hang Up, Ruairiadh O'Connell took images of carpet designs from 7 of the biggest casinos in Las Vegas, and laid them as silkscreen images onto wax-filled steel panels. Fascinated with the coercive potential of such pattern design — whose affect while in the casino is to keep you awake, stimulate you, and make you spend more money — he succeeds in transforming and trapping such intentions within the confines of his constructions. Almost as a tease, and to create an imperfection in the ice-like surface, he kneads and presses the wax in certain places before it sets. Such an intervention may also point to the replication of masseur techniques used at the casinos to also keep its clients supple and active.
Anissa Mack (b. 1970, USA) completed her MFA at the Tyler School of Art, Temple University, Philadelphia in 1996.
Anna Betbeze (b. 1980, Alabama, USA) completed her MFA at the Yale University School of Art, New Haven in 2006.
Ellen Lesperance (b. 1971, Minnesota, USA) completed her MFA at the Mason Gross School of the Arts, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey in 1999.
Liam Everett (b. 1973, New York, USA) completed his MFA at the California College of the Arts, San Francisco, CA in 2012.
Ruairiadh O'Connell (b. 1983, Aberdeen) completed his MFA at Staatliche Hochschule für Bildende Künste, in Frankfurt, Germany in 2011.