All a tremulous heart requires is inspired by the 1985 song "Rusholme Ruffians" by The Smiths, a rollicking reminiscence and a lonely, caustic celebration of the revels and bedevilments of Manchester youths’ annual summer fair. According to Morrissey “It was a period of tremendous violence, hate, distress, high romance and all the truly vital things in life.... [The fair] was the only thing people had." These seven artist’s work confirms the basest human needs are not only ones of sustenance. The title could further act as metaphor for the visual imperatives pressed on inspired artists and viewers alike, now inundated by constant imagery, past and present, at a bewildering pace akin to the song’s “whirling waltzer.”
Critic Magdalena Kröner writes that Rose Wylie has “preserved in her work an almost naïve directness. But her precisely formulated interest in art historical and filmic source material faces off against this inscrutable, jumbled and deliberately ‘raw’ style.” The drawings included here (including a self-portrait) focus on characters represented on jagged shards of paper with cursory, concise depictions of delight, capturing wonder with hints of madness.
By contrast (and in reference to his highly charged collage work such as the piece featured here), Franz West stated “my joke is to suggest the erotic in these horrible-looking people. You can either be depressed, or make a joke about it. The second is the better way to go.”
While Dana Schutz’s latest large scale works on paper resonate with all the urgency of social realism, her figures are in fact confined – prone in bed, in back surgery or the deep mental actions of REM sleep. Their cramped, compressed compositions belie a singular fluidity.
Ted Gahl’s canvases, in the words of critic Thomas Micchelli, “function as layered memories, distorted and fading, through a conflation of old-school painting and conceptual mediation— an uneasy balance, but one with a peculiarly satisfying feel,” achieved here by an elemental, large-scale ab-ex formalism inhabited by a ghostly housepainter, swinging his bucket, dragging his brush and smiling as he smokes.
John McAllister’s paintings have been described by Roberta Smith as “made by someone unafraid to embrace the medium or its history, or to toy with the ratios of hedonism and skepticism therein.” Here an electric hued interior is the psychedelic negative to a classically modernist inspired scene.
Ida Ekblad’s three untitled structures first appeared in the Norwegian Consulate and the Venice Biennial (2011). Continuing her investigation of the utilitarian object, the objects act as tables, sculptures and paintings simultaneously. Vigorous color and a vibrant, lyrical line combine, bringing the notion of usefulness one step closer to poetry.
Marcel Eichner, too, is a poet’s painter. According to the artist, “I wake up in a dream and think up the rest” and more succinctly, “Painting is closing the wound.” Here a haunting still life unites his longstanding interest in interiors with a more recent compositional restraint.
This exhibition was co-curated by Brad Hajzak.