patternsthatconnect

abstract art, a systems view

Posts Tagged ‘Eat Your Friends

More on Alex Hubbard’s video painting

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I have become very interested in Alex Hubbards’ work, having first seen a painting of his at the Indiscipline show at the Mead Gallery, his work was also one of the a subjects of discussion at the event with Bob Nickas entitled The Trouble with Harry, at Mead on 3 March 2012, where the show Eat Your Friends at Simon Lee Gallery, London was recommended and I got to visit it last week.

Since then, and since writing a few posts on Hubbard, I have been looking him up on t’Internet.

There’s this great video on youtube and an interesting artforum article by Fionn Meade, as well as a film review for Hubbard’s Cineapolis 2007, at Dinca.org where Andrew Rosinski refers to the work as

…a ruinous slapstick video painting in two minutes, a performance impelled by the cathartic concept of if it feels good, do it. A static one-shot, filmed from above, captures rummager Hubbard’s madcap actions of cutting, pouring, balloon burning, and paint feathering.  A tactile, prop-driven film that hits the bill down, smacks up the viewer, and slakes the cinematic thirst. If you’re looking for the ne plus ultra of ’00s video art and performance, take a big gulp from this plastic container.

He also includea a link to more at Ubu. Where they say

Playfully destructive and rigorously formal, Alex Hubbard’s tabletop videos — shot from above in a single take – blur together painting, performance, sculpture and video into humorous and disorienting narratives.

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Written by Andy Parkinson

April 1, 2012 at 9:00 am

Alex Hubbard Exhibition: Eat Your Friends, at Simon Lee

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The Alex Hubbard exhibition at Simon Lee Gallery, London, entitled Eat Your Friends, just six works, two of them being videos and the other four being paintings, is absolutely wonderful.

The “title track” is a video that I just cannot help but read as a moving painting with sound.

Montage-like, there are at least three camera views, two look down onto a table top or the floor and one looks forward, and as they overlap actions in one descreet space seem to be taking place also in another. Here it is quite possible to be in two places at once. The actions include spray painting the words “EAT YOUR FRIENDS”, constructing a tower with large cups of take-away coffee until it collapses spilling the contents, and moving a cuboid frame around, “building” some temporary structure the purpose of which seems to defy the logic of building.

The paintings more or less coloured monochromes, made with fibreglass, and found objects: plastic bottles, syringes, broken bits of things, rubbish, the resin sticking the objects to the canvas and forming a high gloss surface over a stained acrylic base. I try to decide whether the objects are carefully placed or randomly scattered and I suspect it’s a bit of both. I study them and then wonder why I am studying them so carefully, what am I expecting to find? Yet I do keep looking, hesitiating to admit that they are beautiful.

 

Finding beauty and being fascinated is my response to the paintings and also to the two videos. I watch them both a few times (they are only about 5 minutes in length). They have narrative of sorts, something happens, and yet also nothing happens. BOTTOM OF THE TOP, like the first video, also uses text, this time not spray painted but possibly arrived at through cutting out the lettering and dropping it in place along the right hand edge of the frame (I so nearly wrote “painting”) over the duration of the video. That’s how it looked to me. And following what is being written, making sense of it yet it not making sense, is matched by the rest of the action,even whilst acknowledging some of the references, the most obvious one being Magritte’s painting Ceci N’est Pas Une Pipe, a pipe in the bottom left corner billows smoke across the picture plane throughout. In the top right an electric fan whirs and carnations are ‘fed’ through the mesh until, hitting the blades, they are scattered across the picture plane in the opposite direction to the smoke. This is what happens when the carnations hit the fan! Meanwhile the artist’s head wrapped in bandages(?) which he paints blue appears at the bottom. We see only head and an arm placing a fish and an eel and flowers above his head, moving them around and eventually cutting the fish and placing the flowers inside it.

There’s beauty here, amid lots of humour. I am reminded of some of those old black & white surrealist films but can’t quite recall a specific one, and action painting, abstract expressionism, neo Dada, are all in here too, as are art-historical/art critical ideas of constructivism, all overness, and Leo Steinberg’s “flatbed picture plane”, in other words modernism, post modernism, and I want to say post-post modernism (Metamodernism even). For all its humour, this work never seems to me to be parody or irony, or of it is ironic I get the sense that it is post-modern irony itself that is being parodied.

The art works in this show seem to blur the distinction between sculpture, painting, performance, and video as well as the ‘genres’ of figuration, abstraction and surrealism, and delightfully question our ways of making sense of art, non-art and everything else.

Eat Your Friends is showing at Simon Lee Gallery, London until 4 April 2012.