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Pretty little things

20th September to 24th October 2003
Private View, Sat 19th September 2003

Steve Asquith, Kaye Donachie, Steve Gontarski, Louise Hopkins, Paul Hosking, Seb Patane, Toby Paterson, Giles Round

Pretty Little Things groups together objects that touch the problematics of surface.

This Jekyll and Hyde show at first glance contains many simple undiluted representations of cultural/capital surfaces; flat planes of black leather, smooth mirrored anamorphic ornaments, bourgeoisie wallpaper, landscape painting, modernist churches and white schoolboy stationery. But in each case these surfaces are always only homogeneous cousins within their small boundaries. Their positions against plasterboard walls, skeleton structures, sound works, text and video; either within the works themselves or the messy confines of the Ship, quickly allude to contemporary debates involving surface from class issues, socio/political site-specific work, debates of the real and architectural misdemeanours to new bastardisations of modernism’s obsession with the surface plane.

Long gone are the days when Greenberg’s ‘mark’ on the surface of the picture is necessarily attached to debates of the figure/ground relationship. No longer do artist obsess about the truth in art resting on it’s own self-consciousness. This show hopes to explore the flat plane’s newfound freedom for a cultural commentary on surface…...

‘Surfaces, it now seems, like all signs, are what we make of them: detached from a fixed and stable reality. There is no way of deciding the primacy of the literal surface over the pictorial or metaphorical surface: no figure which is not also a ground. Indeed ‘the cut’ of the modernist surface gave way to the ‘cut and paste’ of the fragmented postmodernist surface. All kinds of accumulation and appropriation of conflicting styles and iconography were the order of the day as the idea of an over-determined, multiple and contradictory surface made itself apparent. Artists embraced this willing failure of the unified, optical surface as a liberation from the tyranny of bureaucracy, management and control.’
Mark Hutchinson, ‘Through The Surface,’ p.11, From the catalogue ‘nausea:encounters with ugliness’ , Djanogly Art Gallery 2002

The Ship is a contemporary art space in London’s East end, showing an unprogrammed selection of shows mostly chosen by guest curators or independent galleries. Formally a famous East end pub The Ship was until very recently a strip club and pre-war was the venue for Oswald Mosley’s meetings leading up to the Cable Street riots.