Cooke Latham Gallery opens group exhibition: Marking Time

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Cooke Latham Gallery opens group exhibition: Marking Time
Installation view ‘Marking Time’ at Cooke Latham Gallery.

LONDON.- The act of ‘marking’ time and human experience has endless historical iterations. Intangible moments are physically rendered in graffiti, carved names, tallies on a prison wall, tattoos, notches on a bedpost, blocks in a quilt, lines in a diary. Likewise, all artworks are made at a particular moment and reflect something of the person, place and time from which they come. Albeit the breadth of politics surrounding the work's inception, or a transitory interaction of light and object in an artist’s studio. ‘Marking Time’ brings together Marco Bizzarri, Enej Gala, Johnny Izatt-Lowry, Pia Ortuño and Orfeo Tagiuri whose works all explore the elusive connection between mark making and memory.

Pia Ortuño creates paintings that have the weight of sculptures or, alternatively viewed, sculptures that can be read as paintings. Much of her work stems from her Costa-Rican roots, a rich aesthetic language that spans from pre-Columbian spiritualism through to post-colonial iconography. Having worked in marble quarries when younger, the romance of excavation, the drama of explosives and the transformative power of the quarry informs her work. The gestural application of paint and pigment is juxtaposed with repetitive tally marks carved into the surface of the paintings. In Ortuño’s own words ‘I record time in chisel marks, not too shallow and not too deep.’

Orfeo Tagiuri similarly uses the chisel to mark line and time within his wood engravings. Originally expanding upon the idea of the school desk that is carved into as a memento of teenage selfhood his wooden etchings retain the liberation of the doodle whilst the laboured application and removal of surface evokes the monumentality of an icon or reliquary. A multidisciplinary artist Tagiuri’s writing, drawing and engraved works all have a diaristic thread. Rooted in poetry he continually plays with words and images, creating scraps of literary or visual connection that speak to a moment, thought or idea.

Marco Bizzarri is a multi-disciplinary artist whose work explores memory and notions of the archive. His paintings take inspiration from autobiographical encounters with the landscape which, once photographed, he then translates into layered paintings; architecturally rendered sketches that are then fleshed out in colour prior to being obfuscated by thinly flicked paint. The result is visually somewhat akin to pointillism (despite its inherently gestural origin), analogous to seeing an image through a smudged or rain flecked window, the activated surface of the painting de-familiarises the subject matter while simultaneously enabling new compositions to rise to the surface. Dasha Kipa, the clinical psychologist and author, talks about memory as a collaboration between the past and the present. Bizzarri’s paintings speak to this collaboration, past images, which, half-seen, half-hidden, are open to endless current interpretation by the viewer.

Johnny Izatt-Lowry’s practice similarly deals with memory and the ways in which we collectively process imagery in a digital age. His paintings originate in stock images that Izatt-Lowry collects, edits and finally paints from memory. The paintings feel inevitable, their generic roots speaking to a collective understanding of objecthood. It is in their very familiarity however that they disarm the viewer. A Picasso paper sculpture, as a picture, in a book, on a table, becomes translated by Izatt-Lowry into a painting; an illustration of an illustration of an artwork that holds its own references. The painting is no longer an accessible still life so much as an absurdist essay on the act of viewing. Izatt-Lowry’s paintings are laboriously compiled through the layered application of colour on crepe. Inherently anti-gestural the images are built rather than drawn, there are no outlines to the objects depicted, rather they assume a saturated solidity; they are both objects incarnate and somehow no longer relate to the ‘original’ at all.

Enej Gala has adapted part of his series ‘Neighbour’s Harvest’ for the gallery space. The work consists of marionette-like sculptures that are made from ‘harvested’ dust from wood workshop extractors, essentially dust from neighbouring artist’s work. The sculptures play with the exhibition premise, the floor strewn with the sawdust from which they are made and now suspended above, the narrative of their hypothetical movement etched in marks through the same dust. Gala’s tongue in cheek approach to his practice is reflected in the way he reconfigures the series which, like a ‘good neighbour’, can happily adapt to new and different environments. The work speaks to the very concept of artistic time, the sculptures seemingly either in the process of falling apart or of being made. This is entropy or creation stilled in the act of becoming and there is no clear line in the sand/ dust as to when the work is ‘finished’.

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