Curated by Magnus Quaife and open by appointment until mid September, Capital P, capital ISIN by the wilfully anonymous art group PISIN, is currently on display at The Great Medical Disaster, Manchester’s latest temporary project space and part of the Castlefield Gallery New Art Spaces initiative.
With its four members living in different areas and even countries PISIN produces collaborative paintings that circulate between contributors via various postal services, the process limiting the scale of the final pieces to the affordably mobile. This process of painterly additions and overpainting which could easily lead to chaotic muddied abstractions is kept in check by the contributors’ art school training, their mutual impulse being to compose, balance and generally organise shapes and colours into successful paintings.
Further, there is a feeling that there is a slyly hidden mutual keening towards these pictures acquiring a meaning or meaningfulness through this communal process. Or at least a hope that the results will be more than merely decoration. The idiosyncratic titles emphasis this, alternately either complicating matters or indicating a cartoon, pictorial simplicity for the implied imagery in the work.
Quaife’s curatorial placement of the exhibited paintings is also very significant for the success of individual pieces. By spacing apart the stylistically similar the viewers’ attention is forced to flit around the show and make subliminal connections between stains and marks of the impure framing environment and those within the paintings. A good example is ‘Korean BBQ’ (2017). Built from overlaying stained earthy squares and rectangles, a shabby chic pile-up of scruffy abstractions, its dominant snaking white brush-mark is echoed in the repeated wavelike line on the surface of its display wall’s naked breeze blocks.
In ‘20 Minutes Gas Mark 3’ (2017), dirty watery green sausages appear to be straining to stand up on a receding shape suggestive of a tastefully muted striped tie. The surface has a biscuit-like looping pretzel motif visually lassoing the peculiar shapes together. More pictorially conventional are works like ‘I Don’t Like Gherkins’ (2017), decorative lines of repeated grey-green daubs covering the picture, and ‘Ode To Lichtenstein (Polka Dot Underpants)’ (2017) a faded pink mesh of Ben-Day style dots on a clumsy diagonally repeated tile motif.
Significantly, ‘Canal Boats Are Bloody Lonely’ (2017) is the first piece a visitor reaches on entering the space. An accidental meeting of a pale grey-pink jacket and layered torn sheets of yellow and beige paper peppered with short stubs of masking tape; it is a work intuitively pieced together during the show’s installation. Its combination of an absolutely playful immediacy and a co-opting of the stuff of mundane reality into the framing of the visual could be a logical step for future work. A further incitement to structured anarchy and porous procedural boundaries.
Capital P, capital ISIN, The Great Medical Disaster, Manchester.
1 – 17 September 2017.
Paul Cordwell is an artist and lecturer based in Manchester.