Best – Malgras|Naudet

Text by Ali Gunn

Best, at artist-led gallery Malgras|Naudet, is a group exhibition curated by Robert Carter and Joe Fletcher Orr. Featuring the work of Doug Bowen, Chris Fielder, James Lomax, Adam Mc Gowan, James Madden, Emily Mowatt, Paige Ockendon and Faye Spencer. The eight artists are from the North West and beyond and all artists have recently graduated or are still in the process of studying. All works that are in the exhibition are from 2012/13 providing an insight into the current working methods of all the artists.

With twenty works in the in the exhibition it could be easy to over crowd the relatively small confines of Malgras|Naudet, but through Carter and Fletcher Orr’s considered presentation, no single work dominates the space; instead creating a balance that allows each artwork to have its own place.

Rollover by James Lomax and Temporary triptych displayed with the life-size artwork- Hulk Hogan by Doug Bowen face one another. The scaffolding, turf and mesh are undeniably reminiscent of a football goal. Lomax’s abstract form is strong and imposing, whilst Bowen’s triptych is playful. Bungee cords are attached to a picture of a naked woman, stretched out from the arms of Hulk Hogan, a ridiculous image of hyper masculinity.

Emily Mowatt’s piece I Like this Bad Set has a Warholian quality to it; rows of the beautifully designed Delirium beer bottles are casually placed on a shelf and on the floor just below a mirror. All the bottles are empty and framed within the mirror become the perfect picture of contemporary consumption; the left over’s from a heavy night out.

Untitled (Concrete Objects within a Framework) by Chris Fielder is posited at the far end of the room and fills the space with its classical imagery. Painted to look like a Roman wall painting with a lit box containing concrete forms, it is immediately representative of a museum full of antiquities. The concrete forms built up out of imprints of natural and man-made objects, appear like fossilised remnants of a past era that never existed.

Paige Ockendon’s work, Paige emerging edit acts as the exhibition hand out and alights to the curatorial intention of the exhibition. Presented like an open letter to the exhibition audience, the text discusses to the trials and tribulations of that first year out of university; when the luxuries of art school, which were all to easily taken for granted, are gone and Post-Graduation Syndrome begins to sink in. Artists during the first year out of higher education are nearly always labelled as ‘emerging’ and the point at which they become ‘mid-career’ remains hazy. It is this categorising that Ockendon contests and, quoting from her text, the Best artist’s are ones that “should be seen now, no longer being seen as flourishing; they’re ready”.

Best is on display at Malgras|Naudet 12-6pm on the 11, 12 and 18 October 2013, and by appointment.

Ali Gunn is an artist, writer and curator based in Manchester.

Published 11.10.2013 by Lauren Velvick in Reviews

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