Friday 3rd December 2021 - Friday 28th January 2022
Group Show featuring works by Christo Daskaltsis, Inara Bagirova, Joshua Limon Palisoc, Kazunori Kura, Lorenz Friedrich, Lili Lasutra and Nora Mona Bach.
It is common to think of the human and the natural as separate spheres of being. Are we as human animals, however, not a part of nature as much as non-human animals and plants? This othering is of course not common in all human societies and is particularly prevalent in what we coin the Global North. One may further argue, that the disparity which we feel between the human and the non-human is a relatively modern phenomenon that was initiated by Christian ideology which promises humanity a special existence having been created by god in his likeness. This felt disparity was then further deepened by the enlightenment with its glorification of the human ability to reason. In more recent times, one might argue, our technologically advanced urban lives with the means to protect ourselves from the adverse forces of our physical environment have further distanced us from non-human nature.
The title of the group exhibition Significant Otherness is thus to be understood as a question rather than a statement. The phrase invites visitors to explore the idea of kinship (in the sense of Donna Haraway) and otherness as in an alien body with regards to the relationship between humanity and nature. The title also alludes to the phrase ‘significant other’ meaning one’s romantic partner to suggest a more intimate and reciprocal relationship between humans and their non-human environment.
The works by the seven artists exhibiting in Significant Otherness present varying approaches to the artistic exploration of our relation to the natural world around and within us.
The abstract works in oil on aluminium by Christo Daskaltsis are left open for interpretation to the viewer. Titled with only the date of creation, the viewer is invited to decipher the forms and structures on the surface of the aluminium plate as they please. Daskaltsis’ works give evidence to our mind’s ability to imagine what is in fact not there and make sense of a reality that is not given. To many, the works appear to be images of landscapes such as dunes or reefs, satellite images of a planet’s surface or even a close up of precious stones. In reality, however, the works are the result of a chemical reaction between oil paint, turpentine and alkyd. The mechanical and repetitive process that forms Daskaltsis’ working method produces unexpected and always unique results.
The artist Inara Bagirova works in oil on canvas to create figurative paintings. The human figures in Bagirova’s paintings are shown interacting with antlers of an elk or a deer. Though the painting appears at first hyperrealistic with each fold in the fabric, each hair and each mark upon the depicted men’s skin wrought in immaculate detail, the colours are desaturated. Furthermore, it is unclear where exactly these events take place, it seems there is a curtain in the background suggesting perhaps a stage play. Perhaps these figures represent archetypes within the imagination, a dream or a memory. There is a psychological aspect to Bagirova’s works in that the antlers appear to represent an animalistic force within the human that is used to fight, to support or is bundled and thereby tamed.
The Filipino artist Joshua Limon Palisoc grew up with the pre-Hispanic belief that all things possess spirit and thus sees the body as a vessel. Though the human forms that Palisoc sculpts are reminiscent of écorché diagrams, they are not intended to be anatomically accurate. Rather, the additive and laborious process of soldering iron stems from his deep fascination for the design behind the human body that is in no way perfect but each bone, muscle and tendon works together as a functioning system. Palisoc bestows what he calls his own “Sympathetic Magic” on the inanimate material to bring it to life as a human sculpture that he sees as an extension of himself.
Observation is one of the key methodologies to Kazunori Kura’s practice. Concerning himself with natural phenomena in philosophical terms, Kura explores our observation of the world around us with a conscience for the difference between fact and reality. The drawings by Kura exhibited in Significant Otherness were drawn from medical models of human bones. The title TH3 refers to the medical term for the bones in our spine. In observing these bone structures, Kura was touched by the circularity in holding something that would usually be within one’s body but through the act of drawing reenters the artist’s mind as visual information only to be translated onto paper by the artist’s hand. The artist describes this process by saying: “It was as if the boundary between the body and the environment or between the self and the world was blurred.”
The Austrian artist Lorenz Friedrich works in wood and in bronze to create miniature figures that delightfully mimic human behaviour. The worlds that these small human sculptures inhabit are microcosms of the world in which the viewer lives. The works ask us to question our position in relation to the figures - are we gods looking down on them? While the figures are amusing to look at in their intricate gestures and habits, they offer us the potential to look at ourselves as a society. How do we navigate the world in which we live? What is our relationship to one another and our environment? While the figures are life-like in their poses and movements, the materials from which they are made are evident. The artist’s hand is visible in the carving of the wood and the raw surface of the bronze bringing the viewer back to the realisation of the object’s artifice.
Visiting the Lascaux caves in France was one of the most formative experiences for the artist Lili Lasutra’s practice. Seeing these palaeolithic cave paintings created by our distant ancestors inspired her to think about the symbiotic experience between humans and their natural environment on an intuitive level. Lasutra intends for her works to take the viewer on a journey, much like the walks she likes to take through nature for inspiration. Lasutra’s abstract and delicate but animated works are made with shellac, ink, graphite and ink-pen on paper.
Working with primarily natural materials such as charcoal and paper, Nora Mona Bach is inspired by natural scenes such as plants and bodies of water to create often large-scale abstract drawings. Bach’s motifs are condensed or dissolved so as to remove them from literal depiction. Thus, Bach has developed a visual language that is atmospheric and captivating in its mystery. The layering of materials on paper brings depth to Bach’s work allowing the viewer to dive into the monochrome compositions of the two large-scale works exhibited in Significant Otherness.