ARTblog is designed to create a dialoge about Bahamian art, galleries, exhibits, artists etc. To create a network of discussions, thoughts and ideas, to better help the growth of the Bahamian art community.

Monday, September 25, 2006

EXIT: inside out

Exhibit: EXIT
Location: Popop Studios
Opening Date: Friday, September 22nd 2006
Participating Artists: Jason Bennett, John Cox, Blue Curry, Toby Lunn, and Heino Schmid

The exhibit ‘Exit’ which recently opened at Popop Studios was personally, not as good as I had hoped for. Consisting of the usual Popop crew, excluding Michael Edwards, the show was reaching for a new level of contemporary Bahamian art. Purposefully opening the night after the internationally acclaimed exhibit ‘Funky Nassau’ at the National Art Gallery Of The Bahamas (NAGB). Funky Nassau’s success proved to the outside world that Bahamian art is on par with art internationally. Exit then using Funky Nassau’s success as a platform to go beyond, produced the idea that Bahamian art can now change because of this new door being opened. The small community fear of being inferior is now exiting as contemporary Bahamian art makes a stand to prove itself to the world. However, this wonderfully thought of idea was not translated through the presentation of the works and the works themselves.

On entering the gallery space my attention was stolen by a very large 116” x 90” painting by JASON BENNETT. Originally being overwhelmed by its size in the limited space of Popop, the work ‘Twister For Cats’ shows change from Bennett’s usual scale, presentation and to some extent, style. Taking the works on paper to a new level by using not pre-bought art paper but pages of a book, and layering these pages; which is mildly refreshing. Thankfully the usual targets and contour lines were dismissed for this piece giving the viewer a new experience. However, the lack of consideration for the condition of the piece (i.e. the paper bending at its joints) could be a negative for a buyer, since the piece still presents itself in a saleable way. Also, the not so flattering “COB” style of framing appears to be a later thought and confines the density of the piece. Even though Bennett’s work appears to be evolving, ‘Twister For Cats’ seems too pretentious for the space, and appears to be stuck in-between a state of simplicity and completeness.

The artist consisting of the most real estate within the exhibit was abstract painter TOBY LUNN. His work consisting of nine wood stain and enamel paintings belonged not so much in Popop Studios as they did a Lyford Cay beach house. His once engaging technique of movement has become nothing short of repetitive and bland. The work combined with its traditional style of hanging and lack of creative display led to a very disappointing product, particularly considering the initial goal of the exhibit.

The piece ‘Society’ by JOHN COX, appears to only be a sample of something about to come. The conceptual side of the piece remains strong, however with the edition of size as well as languages it successfully expands the idea further. Given the change in scale however, the piece now wishes it were larger than it is, making it appear incomplete. ‘Society’ is more of an experience than it is something you view. The work feels as though it wants to be more sculptural and interactive because of it having different dimensions and so many parts; making me wish that the wall would have continued until it hit the other corner of the room, and even possibly been on the floor and higher up the wall than it was to make the viewer feel encompassed by the piece. Even having all of the cubes except for one, displayed on the wall created a more distant gallery experience and not an interactive one. The three dimensional quality of the cubes become more relief and less sculptural when on the wall making me unsure of the encounter Cox wanted the viewer to experience.

‘Via Someone Else’s Mouth’ by HEINO SCHMID has many qualities of contemporary art on an international level. Based around ideas, appearing to deal with identity and intimate experiences the piece ventures in a new direction for Bahamian art. Unlike the other pieces in the exhibit, ‘Via Someone Else’s Mouth’ is documentation of a representation of an idea and is not based so much on visual aesthetics. The piece itself is strong and works well with the original idea of what the show wanted to accomplish. Though it could have been displayed differently for the ‘Exit’ show. Due to the piece being heavy on the video installation, where viewers need to be able to watch and listen the space given to the piece was unfit. The low television screens created an uncomfortable space for viewers that felt irrelevant to the intent of the piece. Also the proximity to BLUE CURRY’s ‘Potcake’ made the sound levels clash and the experience of watching Schmid’s piece became difficult.

BLUE CURRY does it again with a well thought through, surprising and engaging piece of work. Potcake is nothing short of a Bahamian Icon made immortal by the piece ‘Potcake’. The now popular found object art strikes again. The strength of the piece comes from the authentic nature of the trolley itself as well as the cleverly placed camera and display of the camera. The video of Potcakes daily journey on the streets of Nassau through the eyes of the Iconic object itself, using an old television set that could be believed to even be in Potcake’s trolley to begin with, the piece elevates the person/object we all know giving him importance. Making the question asked by the piece both engaging as well as relevant to the time, “Where does the Disneylandification of it all end?” Nevertheless, unlike the rest of the works in the exhibition where the presentation was too traditional or galleryized the grand trolley itself could have used the galleryification and been elevated on a plinth giving more prominence to the piece.


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