Southard Reid is pleased to present Nestbeschmutzer a show of work by Mark Barker, Adam Christensen, Neal Jones, Campbell Patterson and Keith Vaughan.
Nestbeschmutzer translates from German as “one who dirties one’s own nest”. It extends to have an anti-patriotic application however necessarily generates from the personal, an actively critical examination of the self - often scathing, though also acknowledging enforced acceptance, even celebration of entrapment within one’s personal surroundings and wider cultural, social, political context. The exhibition brings together five artists who consciously lock horns with their own self and artistic identity, with subtlety and sometimes blatancy, whilst also engaging with their direct contexts, the close relationships that further define them, an awareness of threatening failure, the (anti) heroic, rivalry, the potential pointlessness and repetition of creative endeavour. This connects with the mythology surrounding the male artist, whilst also exploring themes of how we see ourselves and others, comparisons, and the catalyst of their effects.
Mark Barker’s film Private Corners is structured around scenarios that utilise roleplay and dramatic reconstruction, and is loosely based around the period during the mid-1940s when British Neo-Romantic painters John Minton and Keith Vaughan shared two floors of a house in St Johns Wood, London. Taking Minton and Vaughan’s living arrangements at Hamilton Terrace as a starting point, the video explores how small domestic spaces are negotiated by the bodies that inhabit them. A claustrophobic room is the stage set in which the characters participate in a series of codified actions, a game perhaps, that appears to be controlled by a female protagonist who guides the action by tracing web-like connections between photos of the characters on a pin board. The characters are objectified in their surrounding, behaving as visual almost painterly devices, whilst hopelessly repeating actions, entrapped in their time-unknown room, studio, relationships and historical readings.
Alongside a new prose text work Boys Can Hurt You, an observation of a café scene that quietly emotionally crescendos to the closing lines that title the piece, Adam Christensen’s Another One Took Over is the first showing of a video shot over a night working at a sex club in Amsterdam. Dressed as a female Christensen moves through the nightclub with a friend dressed similarly. Lost in a world of darkness and sound Christensen is revealed half way through with a slow close up – a moment of surreal disorientation and exposure, exploiting narcissism and confrontation. The second part of the video sees him leave the club in a car to resume his life in the morning daylight, a jazz soundtrack overlaid.
Neal Jones’ visceral entwinement with his surroundings forms the backbone of his practice. His allotment-based studio and the works that come from it engage with a simultaneously humble and aggressively untamed existential and artistic questioning. Jones’ twig Bow with its accompanying arrow makes a sculpture of an unusable weapon, decorated in thick yellow paint. Grotto Idiotto, also painted thickly on reclaimed wood, presents as a portrait - perhaps self – an aged or reduced, absurd, meek of posture but also confronting figure, shufflingly setting off somewhere.
Campbell Patterson’s paintings Punishment II and Compilation (4,5,6,7) each stem from his conscious immersion in the mundane, measurements of the solitary passing of time and existence – the former is a painted recording of remaining packets from a month’s taking of St John’s Wort pills, the latter a scattered mindscape of images, objects, stuff that filled or briefly rested in his head. Similarly Patterson’s video Long and Slow elevates the ordinary and repetitive as he systematically plucks each individual hair from his moustache and beard, with an almost self-harming relentlessness and apparently mindless attention to task of grooming. The flat screen monitor showing Patterson filming himself by using the camera as mirror, is itself nestled on a duvet, his own, therefore personal to him, comforting, insulating and private.
The presence of Keith Vaughan’s painting The Return of Odysseus connects with the mythology of the historical readings of artists, their existence and identity, as well as directly formally and thematically tying with Barker’s Private Corners. Vaughan’s reputation today is entwined with knowledge of his relationship with other artists of his era, his move towards a more independent identity and later abstract painting style, and his suicide in 1977. For a time he was obsessed with Montgomery Clift, with whom he believed his life to have significant parallels, and the bugle that opens and closes Private Corners refers to Clift’s character Robert E Lee Prewitt in From Here To Eternity who could only express his feelings when playing the instrument.
Barker b.1983, Hertfordshire, graduated from The Slade in 2007. He participated in the LUX Associate Artists Programme, 2009 - 2010. His work has been included in exhibitions and screenings at Southard Reid (solo show, November 2011), Auto Italia, London, Event Gallery, London, Transmission Gallery, Glasgow and CHELSEA Space, London. He lives and works in London.
Christensen b.1979, Aylesbury, completed his foundation at European Film College in Denmark and BA in Fine Art at Goldsmiths College. He lives and works in a concrete tower block in London and is shown in the UK by Rachmaninoff’s / Smith/Arnatt Gallery.
Jones b. 1969, Liverpool, graduated from his BA in Canterbury. Recent solo shows have been at Southard Reid and L-13, Clerkenwell, group shows include Alessandra Bonomo, Rome, Darren Knight Gallery, Sydney, Cubitt Gallery, London, John Moores Painting Prize, Liverpool. He lives and works in London.
Patterson b.1983, Portsmouth, completed his Bachelor of Fine Arts, University of Auckland, New Zealand in 2006, and is represented by Michael Lett Gallery. He lives and works in Auckland.
Vaughan b. 1912 died 1977. He worked in an advertising agency until the war when as a conscientious objector he joined the St John's Ambulance. In 1941 he was conscripted into the Non-Combatant Corps. Vaughan was self-taught as an artist.
(from left to right) Mark Barker, Keith Vaughan
Campbell Patterson, Mark Barker
Adam Christensen, Mark Barker
Campbell Patterson, Neal Jones
Neal Jones, Adam Christensen
Campbell Patterson, Adam Christensen