Exhibition Review: Spatial

We have been very interested to hear feedback about the artists work in our current exhibition Spatial. Here Andy Chadwick gives his personal response:

Spatial is not so much a departure, but a progression of the themes Bristol’s nomadic gallery Antlers has explored since its inception, adding man-made and architectural elements to the more naturalistic atmosphere of past exhibitions.

Upon entering, the exhibition taken as a whole is something of a spectacle in itself. Using the building to its full potential, with works suspended from the ceiling on chains in the middle of the room means the venue itself adds an extra dimension to the exploration of space. Mathieu Leger’s large-scale pencil drawings are the first work visible upon entry, and they engage with the theme of space from an interesting perspective in relation to the rest of the pieces on display. Depicting metaphysical rather than physical space with heavy symbolism, these drawings are an exploration of imagined worlds outside of reality. Biblical allusions, Rorschach inkblots and fragmented, haphazard imagery combine to reflect the complexity of the subconscious realm.

The work on display in Spatial often deals with the constructed, human world, but retains plenty of the ‘sublime’ elements that relate to the themes of romanticism and the natural world present in previous Antlers endeavours. Geoff Diego Litherland, for instance, paints sublime landscapes viewed from the perspective of man-made structures in space such as satellites or spacecraft. The sharp juxtaposition of his highly-skilled traditional landscapes with the metallic forms representative of space exploration represents a clash of the human and natural worlds.

Spatial Exhibition

Spatial Exhibition – Matthieu Leger, Show Me How You Love

Spatial Exhibition

Spatial Exhibition – Geoff Diego Litherland, Space Ship Earth (window no.2)

Jonny Byles’ graphite drawings set the retro futurism of brutalist architecture against settings that evoke the vastness of outer space. Taking the common and much-maligned image of the 1960s grey concrete block, Byles turns it into something otherworldly, connecting with the theme of spatiality both in an architectural and astronomical sense.

Through the control of conventionally industrial materials by hand, there’s an architectural element also to Josie Irvine’s glass and steel sculptures. Her geometric forms have a detached and dispassionate quality that makes them the most cerebral work in this show, but there’s a clear link to themes of space and architecture that bridges the gap between Irvine and the more instinctive work shown elsewhere in Spatial.

Sarah Jeffs’ photographic work recreates the immensity of the cosmos by using small, tangible objects such as quartz and crystal geode. Her polished and stately photographs engage with the idea of space as it relates to a human perspective by using materials familiar to us to create images of a scale almost impossible to comprehend. The contrast between her elegant, fluid photographs and the roughness and evidence of human presence in the rest of Spatial, encapsulates how effectively this exhibition brings together the wildly diverse ways in which these artists explore the project’s themes.

Spatial Exhibition

Spatial Exhibition – Jonny Byles – Untitled 1 – Pencil and Graphite on Paper

Spatial Exhibition

Spatial Exhibition – Josie Irvine – Shard 1 (working title) and Shard 2 (working title)

Spatial Exhibition

Spatial Exhibition – Sarah Jeffs – Works from her ‘Crystalline Planet Series’

Images in review © Steve Norton

Image in header © Emily Rose Waite