Four in Play sees Madder139 return to Whitecross Street, East London, now extending onto Playhouse Yard, with a group show featuring four gallery artists, Adam Bainbridge, GL Brierley, Paul Chiappe and Michael Lisle-Taylor.
Exhibiting alongside these four artists are four counterparts from Berlin, Clara Brörmann, Dieter Detzner, Ulrich Hakel and Hannah Gieseler, selected by the city’s recently opened Schwarz Contemporary gallery. Four in Play aims to establish new relationships between the artists and open a dialogue between the two galleries and their wider audience.
Through sculpture, painting and collage, the four artists selected by Schwarz Contemporary create abstract works that utilise architecture as both motif and matter in works that will animate and test the space of the new Madder 139.
Clara Brörmann’s densely layered surfaces can be likened to both diagrams and architectural patterning, linking to both the external and internal architecture of the gallery. Hannah Gieseler also references the internal space, marrying its conventions with art’s landscape tradition; utilising light and video to create objects, installations and interventions that explore nature through technological means.
Ulrich Hakel creates illusive relief works using cardboard and paint which, moving freely between figuration and abstraction, painting and sculpture, classical art history and pop culture, defy catagorisation. Similarly, Dieter Detzner creates works that blur the line between abstract painting and sculpture, using reflective and transparent surfaces and geometric forms that draw the architecture of their immediate environment into the works and reflect it back anew.
The abstract and architectural themes of the four artists from Schwarz Contemporary, is both countered and explored by the figurative motifs and techniques found in the works of the four UK-based Madder139 artists.
Adam Bainbridge works with traditional drawing methods to observe the impossibility of giving memory a material form. Images incorporate both architectural details and patterning with domestic, still life objects, resulting in surreal renderings caught somewhere between fact and fiction. Like Bainbridge, surrealist depictions emerge in the paintings of GL Brierley, where the physical and sensory fleshiness of paint itself is used to create works that are both partially playful and grotesque.
The murky space between fact and fiction is explored further in the work of Paul Chiappe, whose meticulously crafted pencil drawings – often taking three months of dedicated labour to produce – appear convincingly photorealist and are copied from found portrait photographs, manipulated however with additional details that render the resulting images unsettlingly bereft of context and source. Meticulous craft is also evident in the works of Michael Lisle-Taylor whose sculptural practice explores the cultural and material threads that underpin military history and contemporary politics through carefully composed forms and references. Here, a half size Punch and Judy theatre, engineered so as to float on water, makes playful reference to the history of Playhouse Yard within the context of the newly extended gallery space.