02 - 08 February 2018
At a time when highly divisive issues dominate public discourse,
36 emerging artists from different backgrounds reflect on the
notion of conflict within and between people.
Discord is a common part of life, yet current affairs make it seem more ferocious and prevalent today. Events from recent history like economic crises and sociopolitical unrest across the globe started a chain reaction leading to new waves of populism, extremism and activism which continue to raise questions affecting identity, policy and culture. As debates continue to escalate demanding awareness and change, these artists present their own perspectives using a variety of media including painting, print, collage, drawing and everyday objects, unified by the boundaries of a 12x12-inch space that confine each one.
Olivia Bates Nicholls
Whitney Jade Halsted
Philippa Kate Weaver
Yau Shan Fibbie Wong
Sean Anthony Winn
CONFLICT: EXHIBITION REVIEWS
BA Sculpture, Wimbledon, UAL
5th February 2018
Behind an unassuming closed door tucked away in covert from the character that is the face of Chelsea College of Art lies Wimbledon MFA’s exhibition Conflict; a group exhibition translating ideas of topical discourse that, one can assume, is aimed toward the ever-growing advocacy for change surrounding a number of socio-political affairs arising in recent years (so the exhibition text tells us). Before attending there is little to suggest the nature of works displayed leaving the viewer certain only of their own perceived definition of conflict with, unfortunately, not much else to sate.
Once inside, there is an arrangement of variegated works created with a sizeable range of media from photography to collage, found objects and text that beckons for closer observation. The restricted space that the exhibition occupies has contributed to that of the works installed which individually fill a 12x12 inch slot, collectively piecing together to form a larger expanse that encroaches on the confines of what little room there is left to spare. With the restrictions in scale given to the artists some are seen to have made use of third dimensions that approach the viewer further. Feelings of discomfort ensue as one is left with no window or crevice to distract.
A total of thirty-six perspectives confront the viewer and as one approaches, issues of wealth, environment, war and of self become clear in the objective of several artists. Others hold a dialogue in colour while some remain more concealed in their intention, perhaps purposeful. What initially is perceived as a collective united by one idea reveals itself to be more complex and unreadable in its entirety.
Each piece displayed is clear as the representation not just of an idea but of the artist who holds it; the already confined exhibition space growing smaller with dozens of works personified that finds oneself faced with protesting chorus. There is no fluidity to the collection and be sure, reader, that this is no fault of the curators, but instead serves to amplify the rich diversity in artists, artworks and intentions alike. The viewer is engaged in conversation with each work, each artist, and shares for a brief time a cause that is unclear of resolution, but is left with assurance that there is no shortage of protest.
Emma Louise Hollaway
MA Drawing, Wimbledon, UAL
5th February 2018
‘At a time when highly divisive issues dominate public discourse, 36 emerging artists from different backgrounds reﬂect on the notion of conﬂict within and between people’. Artists on the Wimbledon MFA have overcome the limitations of the small exhibition space by requiring all exhibitors to work within a 12x12-inch format. The works are displayed in grids of four, nine and a single row of ﬁve on three walls. On the long wall the grids of nine gradually climb the wall which gently breaks any monotony of format.
The small scale of the works does not limit the impact created by the artists. Yihsin Chu has worked with a square format previously in abstract paintings but Are you listening? hints at ﬁguration. Cherish Marshall uses her own face in Conﬂict of the Mind to respond to Katz’s study of Colour Preference in the Insane but its impact is lessened by being hung so far above eye-level.
The smallest selection of works hung together, by Renate Mahmoud, Robert Verrill, Bertie Chapman and Chieh-An Tang, enhance each other through the curation and bring Tàpies to mind.
The title of the show attempts to ground the works in current discourse and reference ‘new waves of populism, extremism and activism which continue to raise questions affecting identity, policy and culture’. It’s a bold premise but it does make the viewer hunt for the conﬂict in each work or title.
Given how diverse the media and techniques are in the exhibition, it seems to limit the scope of the works to be constantly hunting for a representation of conﬂict. The works that do represent conﬂict more directly, such as the painted combat boots in Rebel or the gas mark in Post-traumatic (stress disorder) oddly suffer from a lack of ambiguity even though the artists are directly responding to the theme.
For an exhibition based on the theme of ‘Conﬂict’, there is no clash between the works themselves. The unity of the boundary of the 12x12-inch format and the grids the works are displayed in bring coherence to the show. Syreeta King explained that the format of the works had to be agreed ﬁrst due to the restrictions of the exhibition space, and the discussion of a theme based on war or conﬂict followed. The grid, and the limits imposed by the grid however, could have been taken as a theme in itself, especially when it has been imposed by a lack of space at art schools, and therefore has its own scope for comment. The identical format and the curatorial grid imposed by the space are what highlight the diversity of imagery, techniques and media on the Wimbledon MFA.
MA Drawing, Wimbledon, UAL
5th February 2018
‘’Conflict” is an intriguing title for a show, and I had only been told this and that it was a group show where the works were all 12” x 12” when asked to write a review.
Prior to arriving I wondered, how many types of conflict are there? Many types, more numerous to count; conflict: between each other, internally, nation to nation, colour to colour, belief conundrums, self-perception, and perceptions compared to realities, love vs hate etc etc etc. So with all these thoughts about the nature of conflict I anticipate entering this show of works by the 36 MFA students from Wimbledon. The show’s ‘flyer’ seen on arrival says “Discord is a common part of life, yet current affairs make it seem more ferocious and prevalent today. Events from recent history like economic crisis…….’ So I gather it is a collection of works based on social commentary.
It is hard not to look for keys to unlock meaning when a show has a name like this, it’s the way my brain works, how it tries to get value, how it tries to ‘feel’ the works. I enjoyed the task of interpreting what the discord or conflict was in each piece. The disparate styles/subjects/mediums/thoughts/colours were enormous. The titles gave a clue to each person’s expression and approach, and instead of answers gave me more to think about, and yet understanding, of why the work lives in the show ‘CONFLICT’.
Some works were obvious but executed with care, some were obtuse and clever, some seemed personal, and some quite oblique. Then there were standouts for me – yet all displayed in a grid like format made the whole work as one.
Those I can’t stop thinking about were Renate Mahmoud’s ‘Es geht mir ganz gut’ (I am doing fine) the complexity of conflict issues in this just keeps blooming, and the care of composition and execution was a joy. Luisa Rodriguez’s ‘Firewood’ was also a stand out, and the contrast between the execution and material were understated. There were many I really responded to actually, on multiple levels. There were some great titles, some wonderful textures, terrific originality and, although a mixed bag, was a totally intriguing exercise to be confronted with.
I learned after seeing the show that the 12 x 12” size was selected as it is the size of vinyl record album covers, this made me see them again a new light, and wondered if this could have featured it the blurb, as I find that quite interesting. I went away humming in my mind “war – what is it good for – absolutely nothing” (written by Barret Strong / Norman Whitfield, covered by ‘The Temptations’, ‘Frankie Goes to Hollywood’ and Bruce Springsteen) and I could see a few of the works as great album covers for that song.