Aliki Krikidi | Babette Semmer | Grant Foster | Ben Westley Clarke | Denzil Forrester | Lucy Stein | David Harrison | Melissa Kime | Vanessa Mitter | Jack Catling | Robin Bale | Stuart Brisley | Curated by Vanessa Mitter and Ben Westley Clarke
January 12, 2018
 to February 25, 2018

Free & open to all

In a world that has really been turned on its head, truth is a moment of falsehood – Guy Debord
“There is nothing funny about Halloween. This sarcastic festival reflects, rather, an infernal demand for revenge by children on the adult world”
– Jean Baudrillard   

The ubiquity of photography and advertising and our involuntary immersion in the mediated world assembled by it, demand a creative human response. How can we live, uninhibited, when constantly bombarded by the instructive and the inauthentic?  How can we know embodied, unselfconscious experience in the society of images and spectacle? Perhaps a solution lies in bearing witness to its cacophonic multiplicity of truths. Perhaps the highly personalised, playful nature of the activity of painting confronts its tyranny directly, with its antidote.

Painters transform their childhood impulses to shriek, taunt, sing and run wild into vociferous, effusive experimentation. Like ecstatic bambinos, clutching watermelon slices and plastic axes, faces are painted like skulls; they play, unbounded, as a matter of course. Wielding paint, they throw themselves, cackling, into the dance of art and life. The tradition of painting goes back and back.  They invoke their ancestors and invite the dead to dance with them, their frisky rebellion allowing modernity to be reimagined as anything other than drab. Beneath the dull concrete of the everyday lies the tropical beach of expression. Sweetness doesn’t just emerge out of nowhere. It has to be willed into existence.

All of the painters in this exhibition are ‘painters of modern life’. The life impulse coexists with the death impulse. The painters bear witness, with an inextinguishable verve and energy, like spirits walking amongst the living. They have one foot in the grave. It dangles precariously. ‘No, no, the work of art is not destined for the generations of children to come. It’s offered to the innumerable dead. Who approve. Or refuse it1

Frivolous Convulsions is an exhibition which collides carnivalesque and celebratory renditions of modern life. From effusive expressionism to calculated documentary; from the folksy to the ultramodern, the clash of idioms and practices proposes the impulse towards painting as an essential social phenomenon. Each painting simultaneously addresses a need to converse and interact, and a need for individualism and boldness. In dialogue with the dead painters of history, the artists continue relentlessly in their search to marry storytelling with formal, pictorial invention.

1 Jean Genet, The Studio of Giacometti


With thanks to Arts Council England and Croydon Council for their generous support.



Cadaverous in Croydon // Paul Carey-Kent, FAD Magazine
Review: Frivolous Convulsions at TURF Gallery, Whitgift Centre // Charles Barber, The Croydon Citizen


Install images by Tim Bowditch

Performance images by Pouya Mota:
– ‘Bad Blood’ by Robin Bale, approx. 20-25 minutes
– ‘Pieta’ by Vanessa Mitter, approx.15-20 minutes
– ‘Mechanism’ by Jack Catling, approx 5 minutes

Related events:

Join us for the opening night of the Frivolous Convulsions, with a collection of performances from Robin Bale, Jack Catling and Vanessa Mitter.
Join us for a Family Art Fun Day inspired by current Turf exhibition Frivolous Convulsions!
Join us for the performance of a new work from 'godfather of British performance art' Stuart Brisley, following on from his work Next Door (the missing subject). 
February's crit will be led by Frivolous Convulsions curators and artists Ben Westley Clarke and Vanessa Mitter.


Letters: ‘Frivolous Convulsions’, Vanessa Mitter & Ben Westley Clarke

Original price was: £35.00.Current price is: £10.00.

Artist-Designed Patch: ‘Frivolous Convulsions’, Ben Westley Clarke

Original price was: £4.00.Current price is: £2.00.