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Published in Irish Arts Review, November 2015 ( December 2015 - February 2016 (Vol 32 No 4) p. 526-533 )
I am dyslexic like a high percentage of creative people - that can have a big impact on a personality. I knew I wanted to be an artist. I don’t know how, but I went to Sligo thinking that I’d learn how to demonstrate emotions through art but that idea was soon squished. We learned every single process - carving, clay, and metalworking ... By the time I had finished I was ready for the challenges. We were minded, valued and nurtured. It was communal almost. Competition didn’t exist. We were proud of each other’s ability.
Related artists: Daphne Wright
Published in Frieze Magazine, November 2015 ( Issue 175, p. 170 )
The exhibition in fact contains images of two expanses of parched wilderness, wisely paired and thousands of miles apart: one photographed by John Riddy, the other drawn by James Castle. Their respective haunts were South Africa’s jagged Cape Peninsula, a spur of land jutting out into the Atlantic Ocean that the British-born Riddy has roamed over for decades, and Idaho, where the deaf and illiterate Castle, an artist of disarming gifts, was born in 1899 and remained until his death, 78 years later. Together, they map communities from their most desolate edges to provide documents of these places that are difficult to decipher and reverberate with mutually ghoulish history.
Published in The Guardian, October 2015
“THE BASTARD WORD”, reads a neon sign that fills a whole wall. My life is filled with bastard words, and so is Fiona Banner’s Scroll Down And Keep Scrolling, at Birmingham’s Ikon Gallery. If her neon sign addresses her conflict with words, it also embodies her difficulties with neon. The glass lettering is stressed and wonky and has scorched the paper template on the wall behind it. It hurts just to look; I know how the words feel.
Published in The Times, October 2015
Banner’s work - now the subject of a major survey exhibition, Scroll Down And Keep Scrolling at Ikon Gallery, Birmingham - is full of teases like this, that make you aware of the links and gaps in your perception of the world.
Published in Artforum, October 2015
In the abstract, it seems merely provocative to pair John Riddy’s recent photographs of South Africa’s Cape Peninsula with drawings by the self-taught American artist James Castle. Riddy is a British photographer of exquisite technical precision, while Castle, deaf and illiterate, worked in almost complete obscurity until his death in 1977, turning found materials such as packing boxes and kitchen twine into sculpture, books, and drawings.
These pieces share a vocabulary of barns, gables, pilons, and power lines; yet in both, banal subjects viewed dead-on can remain strangely unknowable…Of course, this pairing shatters expectations of photographic objectivity or “outsider” subjectivity, but better yet, the formal enigmas of Riddy’s floating trailers and Castle’s squiggle symbols will find their partners if one looks close enough.
Published in Creative Review, September 2015
Banner has created ‘Font’ to accompany two new exhibitions of her work, at Frith Street Gallery in London and Ikon in Birmingham. The Ikon show, which opens on October 10, is the first major UK survey of Banner’s art, featuring works going back over 25 years.
Published in Time Out, September 2015
Published in FT Weekend, July 2015 ( Page 15 )
Shaping his defining experiences — long-term illness and cultural displacement — into affecting, exquisitely formal works, touched too by a French lyrical inflection, he made a distinctive contribution to the Chinese avant-garde, celebrated here in this rare UK show…In “Crystal Landscape of Inner Body (Serpent)”, delicate, sinuous, blown glass abstractions represent internal organs — some bulbous, some coiled, some rough, some smooth — laid out like a disjointed body on a glass table suggesting a clinical examination bed. They balance sculptural opposites — inside/outside, solid/void — to muse on the relationship between the individual and society, the material and spiritual, beauty and death.
Published in The Guardian, July 2015
Once Tan read about Jonah the giant whale, she set off on her own journey, delving into natural history museums to find out more. “I am very interested in the idea of collections,” she says. (Her previous works include an imaginary museum curated by Marco Polo, shown at the 2009 Venice Biennale, and a film about John Soanes’s museum full of antiquities in London.) “What is a collection, and what is someone trying to tell me with it?” wonders Tan. “Some are huge – the Netherlands’s natural history museum has 37m specimens.”
Related artists: Fiona Tan
Published in NOW Toronto, July 2015
Tacita Dean dominates the exhibit with JG, her breathtaking meditation on filmic and geologic time. Using dystopian British novelist J.G. Ballard’s short story The Voices Of Time as a starting point, she films Robert Smithson’s iconic land art piece, Spiral Jetty, in Utah’s Great Salt Lake…Somehow, in 26 minutes, she makes notions of eternity and fragile humanity palpable, using the magnificent Utah landscape as a canvas.
Related artists: Tacita Dean
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