LONDON.- Encounter Contemporary
presents One and Other, a dual exhibition of work by leading contemporary British artists: painter Adam Ball (1977) and sculptor Oliver Barratt (1962). In their abstract works, both artists meditate on the complex interactions between different forms, drawing attention to points of contact and the animated spaces between. Brought together for the first time, these distinct artistic practices generate a compelling dialogue on the art of relation.
Both Ball and Barratt have exhibited in an impressive range of international spaces from the Goss Michael Foundation (Dallas), to the Peggy Guggenheim Collection (Venice), Paul Kasmin Gallery (New York) to Cass Sculpture Foundation (Sussex). Now they return to London to exhibit together at The Economist Building in the heart of Mayfair.
In One and Other, the proximity staged between Ball and Barratt initiates an engaging backand-forth exchange. Whether cut or carved, polished or painted, there is a palpable rawness in both Ball and Barratts work, a desire to expose as much as to conceal. Both push materials to their limits. Both create multi-layered objects which are not afraid to show the labour through which they have come into being. At the core of the show is a shared and ongoing preoccupation with moments of touch and departure: the relation between internal and external, fluid and solid, a paradoxical struggle to make permanent the elusive whilst maintaining its intangibility. In paintings, cut outs and sculptures, rhythmic lines allude to recognisable forms without succumbing to them. These forms shift in and out of focus, emerging and receding, expanding and contracting, caught in an unstable dance between the imagined and the intended, the familiar and the forgotten. The result is masterfully coded pieces which hang tantalisingly on the edge of understanding, works which echo complex patterns of thought in their irrepressible twists and turns.
Despite their visual convergences, these practices emerge from fundamentally different creative trajectories. For Barratt, making sculpture is intuitive, beginning from a place of internal quiet, emptied of outside influence, a process of tentatively feeling the sculptural object into the visual world. Meanwhile, Balls works are the result of closely observed and rigorously researched source materials ranging from images of his own DNA to digital mappings of human movement. This melting pot of visual stimuli deepens and builds before being edited and transcribed into seductively simple abstractions.
At play in both practices is a tension between macro and micro, a sophisticated deliberation on issues of scale. Given this, it is hardly surprising that both artists are widely acclaimed for their monumental public works. Ball came to prominence in 2002 after installing a 10 metrehigh painting in Londons Golden Square and is currently working (in collaboration with HOK Architects) on a 3 x 16 metre lightbox to be permanently imbedded on the outside of Papworth Hospital in Cambridge. Over the past 25 years Barratt has placed numerous public sculptures across the UK and internationally; most notably Skyline 5 x 5 x 7 metres commissioned to celebrate Liverpool as European City of Culture 2008. For this exhibition Barratt will install Turning Point in the centre of the The Economist Plaza, returning to a space where he first exhibited with the New Art Centre in 1992.