At the Point of Gesture at Wimbledon College of Art
Speaking about painting as an art form, David Ryan, curator of the University of Arts London exhibition At the Point of Gesture, said in a recent interview: “Its place and role in the art world today is perhaps confusing, but that is because the art world is a bigger, global commercial world than ever before…international biennales and art fairs have the effect of turning everything, even the most ephemeral or politicised gesture, into big business. And that is a problem educationally as well.”
Stepping into Wimbledon Space at the Wimbledon College of Art and viewing the nine works that comprise At the Point of Gesture, Ryan’s words ring true. Looking at the paintings, it’s impossible to resist mentally re-decorating your home to accommodate your favourite work. “That would look great above the fireplace,” you mutter to yourself between sips of complimentary chardonnay.
Home decoration and big business aside, Ryan’s motive at the conception of the exhibition was to strip the process of painting back to basics. He sought to show work that “uses its materiality unashamedly” and he chose five painters who “focus on, and relish, the nature of paint.” The gesture; the movement of an arm as it sweeps across the canvas – that is where Ryan wanted to pause.
Clem Crosby’s oil on Formica pieces Porcelain and Some Weird Sin are tangled works that have the look of fabric fibres zoomed in; or a chaotic school of fish, or, anything you want, really (they’ll beg you to stare). Andrea Medjesi’-Jones’ works Bearded (1), Bearded (2) and Bearded (Sexism) are fascinating merges of paint, canvas and fringing, while Alaena Turner’s works entitled Secret Action Painting announce themselves as rushed or purposely unfinished. There are smudges of black on the edges of coloured panels, and the smudges continue even to the white of the gallery wall. Gabriel Hartley’s Phase is perhaps the most eye-catching of all the works, with a breadth of almost four metres, a kaleidoscope of colour and layer upon layer of interesting texture, it’s easy to get lost in this one.
Taken as a whole, the works achieve the initial goal. They are abstract, which helps to take the focus away from final form and urges the eye towards process and material. Overall, a well curated burst of painting unearthed.
At the Point of Gesture is at Wimbledon College of Art until 6th March, for further information visit here.