Blistering Round the Biennial

Sunday, October 28th, 2012

It’s very easy when you live somewhere and something is on for several months to miss it.  So today I treated the 2012 Liverpool Biennial like I would a visit to another city.  In four and a bit hours I crammed in trips to the Walker Art Gallery, 28-32 Wood Street, The Bluecoat and the LJMU Copperas Hill Building.

The Walker

The main reason for going to the Walker was to see this year’s John Moores Painting Prize.  As with lots of exhibitions of art being made now there is a lot that doesn’t really do anything for me.  I think that’s primarily down to a lot of it being on a par with something I could have done.  And I’m no great artist.  I’d like to see a bit more skill on display and a little less I’m an artist so its art so hang it in a gallery.

That moan out of the way there were a fair number of pieces I really did like…

Stephen Nicholas – Gallery – would be an abstact piece if it didin’t hint at pictures hanging within the space it creates.

Narbi Price – Untitled Kerbstone Painting (MJK) – Not your conventional landscape.

Graham Chorlton – Edge of Town.  I think I may have a go at a render inspired by the balance of this picture.

Tom Pitt – Steps, Forest Rec. Had I not read the title and instantly wondered if it was the Forest Rec where Nottingham Goose Fair is held I might have ignored this one but it is so I feel a bit of a connection to it.

Wayne Clough – Down the Acapulco – could pass for a painting unless you look closely.

Nathan Eastwood – A Man after llyan Repin’s Own Heart. This is just has a bit of mood to it which a lot of the other pieces lack.

Jarik Jongman – Waiting Room (1)  – A second piece that manages to convey a mood.

Laura Keeble – “I’d like to teach the world to sign!” – Humbrol Enamel on a found cola can depicting riot police.

Paul Collinson – Temple of the Ancient Virtue. I really like the way this puts a modern, temporary building into the middle of an ancient ruin.

Dominic Lewis – The Auction.  One of those pieces that works better if you stand away from it.  An intriguing piece with nostalgia for the 50s.  In terms of subject not far from novels about writers.

Biggs & Collings – The Greater Light. This may be an abstract pattern that could be wallpaper but when you look at the detail  on the canvas you can see time and attention was paid to producing this.

Peter Liversidge – Proposal for the Jury of the John Moores Painting Prize 2012.  Probably the most amusing piece in the show.

Elizabeth Magill – Sighting. One of maybe three pictures I’ve seen in the show I’d like to have on my wall.  I’d need quite a big wall.  Dark magical and mysterious.  My favourite piece from the show.

Sharing a space with the John Moores Painting Prize are paintings from the John Moores Painting Prize China 2012.  These can comfortably sit alongside the other works and the quality is brilliant.

LJMU Copperas Hill Building

After the Walker my next stop was the LJMU Copperas Hill Building or the old postal sorting office.  I’ll come back to this building in another post if I find time.  Let’s just say I’ve loathed its architecture for 20 years and so my main reason for going to these exhibitions wasn’t the art so much as the building.

Placing the exhibitions in this building inside a space that hasn’t been completely cleared of the remnants of its former use is both inspired and distracting.

I didn’t really find a lot in the Bloomberg New Contemporaries 2012 that I connected with.

I was similarly struggling with City States.  Pieces like Black Pillow remind me of what I came away with from Tate Modern’s Damien Hurst earlier in the year – a feeling that he had a few good ideas to start with and when he got some money did them bigger and bigger.  It’s big and that makes it a statement art doesn’t do a lot for me.

But then I came upon Cityproject by Alicja Karska & Aleksandra Went.  This places what looks like architectural city models in what looks like wasteground or a building site.

“Reproducing Hong Kong – Live it, Love It” consists of a series of pictures that have been turned into a crudely made video that works because it’s not slick.  You see the hand changing the cards.  Alongisde the video are all the cards which are each beautiful, modern impressionistic pieces.

28-32 Wood Street

Has Ming Wong’s Making Chinatown I’ll probably go back to because I think I need to actually stop and watch the pieces through.  The room with the posters and stills from films on the theme stirred up a few ideas for my recently restarted novel.

 The Bluecoat

The highlight of the art in the Bluecoat for me was Sun Xun’s Ancient Film,  The films are beautiful but  it was the illustrations I really liked.  Stunning and worth seeing if you like Chinese art.

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