1980s industrial architecture funnelling wind downwards, whipping up litter in dangerous whirlpools as I exited the train at East Croydon.
Then meeting good people nursing art together over a table top.
Sabrina Shah’s two paintings perfectly scaled with earnest colouring – deep velvet lines contouring a host of uncanny characters playing at being children. Mask wearers eating a sandwich and a black cat offered up to eerie yellow moon light. Day to day observations imbued with a sense of mystery and urgency.
The Battle Between Effort and Effortlessness.
We decided we would want to assume, that the same level of thought is applied equally to the titling of an artwork and to one which remains untitled.
What is the value of risk in relation to the production of an artwork? Should we still be playing roulette with Francis Bacon?
Earnest colours. Yellow isn’t just about madness and hysteria it’s a space giver – as Sabrina said “Yellow pushes things forward and affords us more space”.
Down the steps to Miguel Sopena’s studio. Two huge daylight lamps like floodlights on a football pitch where a host of paintings are lined up for inquisition. The ghost of Rembrandt hovers in the background as a startling self-portrait stares at us. Night time blue radiance and the silent intensity of many hours spent looking at oneself. Inward gaze, outward arrest.
A photograph to a painter is a bit like nuclear waste – it needs careful handling. Too much brush-skill can lead into provincial cul-de-sacs where living paint is dressed up and yet underneath, stiff as a corpse.
And then, like a bullet from the blue, Miguel remarks that he is in opposition to “the facile meaninglessness of contemporary figurative painting”. His words hung in the air like a totem to guide a lost civilisation through a dark night.
Blandine Bardeau spoke about space and how her forms are encouraged to reach beyond the edge. In 300 years we will perhaps see plastic bottles in museum vitrines with captions saying our “ancestors were idiots”. There are the ethics of consumption which Bardeau skilfully considers.
Ian Marvin‘s 3D printed printing plates of Croydon architectural buildings had a hint of Iain Sinclair to them. Wandering around the edges of Croydon snapping at the modernist dream half decayed, eternally wet and grey. History condensed into non-innocent shape and form.
And then home to reflect on the truly unique position Turf occupies. Turf is genuinely inclusive and has none of that patronising, community-focused gentrification that can plague art centres in unlikely places.
Many thanks to Frivolous Convulsions exhibiting artists Grant Foster for leading the crit and for this writeup! Turf’s next free crit will be on 24 Feb, led by Frivolous Convulsions curators Vanessa Mitter and Ben Westley Clarke.