Third in the series of 'In Conversations' at Pippy Houldsworth Gallery, critic and writer Richard Dyer is in conversation with the four artists showing in the exhibition, Means Without Ends: Mark Francis, Ian Davenport, DJ Simpson and Daniel Sturgis. The discussion looks at each artist's practice and some of the links and themes that emerge in bringing their new bodies of work together. Means Without Ends ran from 20 January - 18 February 2012.
This exhibition showed new works by all four artists. Re-evaluating the unique illusory qualities of painting, Davenport, Francis, Simpson and Sturgis move beyond the tautologies and modernist tradition of process-based work. Their paintings share an uncanny relationship with the realms of technology and design, allowing for new, non- instrumental narratives of form and space.
Continuing his series of ‘Puddle Paintings’, Davenport uses a syringe to pour acrylic paint down stainless steel and aluminium panels. Exploring the multiple possibilities of diverse colour sequences, Davenport invites the viewer to read the score for the painting in conjunction with the performance involved in pouring each piece. Recent solo exhibitions include Dundee Contemporary; Tate Liverpool; Paul Kasmin Gallery, New York; Hakgojae Gallery, Seoul; and Waddington Custot, London. His work is represented in major collections including The British Council; Daimler Chrysler Collection, Stuttgart; Dallas Museum of Art, Texas; Banque Paribas; Tate, London; and Weltkunst Collection, Zurich.
Strongly influenced by scientific imagery, from astronomy to medicine, Mark Francis uses microscopism as a means through which to investigate ideas about abstraction, and vice versa. He has recently had solo exhibitions at Dublin City Gallery; Mary Boone Gallery, New York; Maureen Paley, London; the Brooklyn Academy, New York; and a major retrospective at the Milton Keynes Gallery in 2000. He was also part of ‘Sensation’ at Royal Academy, London and the Brooklyn Museum, New York. He is represented in collections including the Irish Museum of Modern Art; Tate Gallery; Victoria and Albert Museum; the Museum of Modern Art, Miami, and the Metropolitan Museum, New York.
DJ Simpson has developed a unique approach to abstraction, using a subtractive process of drawing by ‘routing’ into manufactured sheet materials. In a new series of metal works Simpson continues the reverse figure and ground principle. Combining an industrial, powder-coating technique with the hand-folding of thin aluminium sheets, the work deals with frictions in the relationship between gesture and solid material. Recent exhibitions include Platform A, Middlesbrough; Eastside Projects, Birmingham; Kunstverein Kohlenhof, Nürnberg; Bloomberg Space, London; Sies+ Höke, Düsseldorf; Helga de Alvear Gallery, Madrid; Centre de Cultura de Palma, Palma de Mallorca; and mima, Middlesbrough.
Daniel Sturgis’ paintings employ repeated motifs that give the illusion of a kind of order. Sequences of pre-designed shapes and colours appear to hover on the surface, shifting between optical and representational configurations. Sturgis selected the work for The Indiscipline of Painting: International abstraction from the 1960s to now, Tate St Ives and Mead Gallery, Warwick Arts Centre and is also part of the exhibition. Other exhibitions include Galerie Hollenbach, Stuttgart; Chinati Foundation, Marfa, Texas; Camden Arts Centre, Kettle’s Yard, Cambridge, and Jerwood Space, London. He was a prizewinner of the John Moores Prize, Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool in 2010. His work is represented in major collections including the Government Art Collection, London; University of Warwick; Progressive Art Collection, Ohio; Daimler Art Collection, Berlin; and Saatchi Collection, London.