Monday, 7 August 2017

‘You’re Reading Into It’ at Vane Gallery

‘You’re Reading Into It’ brings together bodies of work by seven emerging LGBTQ+ artists, curated by artist Oliver Doe. The work focuses on queer readings of Minimalist art and portrayals of LGBTQ+ experience through a minimal abstract lens. Seeking to challenge the machismo often associated with Minimalist art and reclaim a queerness in that visual language, ‘You’re Reading Into It’ highlights the importance of queer and radical feminist issues in the development of contemporary art.

Rachel Ara’s work makes direct references to High Minimalism’s sexism and the movement’s ignorance of women artists such as Ana Mendieta, as well as gendered pricing structures in art and the tragedy of the HIV/AIDS crisis to which she lost several friends. Charlotte Cullen seeks to reinsert the individual into Minimalist formalism’s abstract removal of the artist’s hand by employing a feminist sense of craft. This contrasts the ‘masculine’ industrial fibreglass insulation and aluminium used in the sculptures in order to question binaries of gender and sex. Garth Gratrix also utilises materials often associated with Minimalism – household paints, concrete, and metal – but turns this machismo on its head by playfully examining their ‘queer’ properties through language, innuendo and slang.

Oliver Doe’s paintings question queer visibility in visual culture, employing opaque gloss paint over translucent, skin-like nylon grounds. Abstracting figures into confused, amorphous and sometimes invisible bodily forms, Doe critiques formalist hard-edge painting through an inquisitive queer lens. These are well complemented by Singaporean artist Daniel Chong’s intimate mirrored sculptures, Safe Spaces, which critique his country’s criminalisation of homosexuality. These laser-cut works present the abstracted spaces between embracing figures, removing the bodies and their associations from sight, whilst reflecting the figure of the viewer within.

Tessa Hawkes’ practice plays with object-hood, materiality and narratives, working across a diverse range of media to explore closeness, balance and unalike objects. Her choices of ‘things’ are purposefully colourful and fun; working from collections of images and objects informed by industrial spaces and queer culture, playing with her own queerness and aesthetic views while working through formal methods. Liam Fallon’s sculptural work plays with similar visual codes, deeply invested in the objects’ properties and their relationships with queer coding. Using a diverse and colourful range of materials, Fallon explores and makes reference to subtle forms of queerness and sexual subcultures within pop culture.

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