Tuesday, 28 March 2017


On 24 March a the House of St Barnabas, seven of the artists in ‘Show Us Your Process’ and ‘The Other Side’ spoke for five minutes each on a variety of topics related to the work in the shows Here’s a summary of their contributions on what proved a fascinating evening. See
for full details of the artists' works.
Tony Charles - Industrial Steel Benches
Tony recalled how – as soon as he went into the steel industry in Middlesbrough, where he now runs Platform A gallery – he realised he had sooner he’d gone to art college. He worked in the industry for 13 years, and was always fascinated by the marks which were the contingent result of the industrial processes which were carried out on steel benches, such as clamping steel sheets in place with a dog, and dressing them with angle grinder. In his early years, he would take whatever opportunities he could to look down on these benches from above in order to get an overview of the pattern of marks, despite his supervisors suggesting that there was work to be done! Now, those same processes feed directly into how he makes his art.
Tom Hackney - Duchamp's Chess Career

Marcel Duchamp: Pocket Chess Set, 1943

Tom has to date made 96 paintings which plot the action of the moves in recorded games by Marcel Duchamp. He was a serious player when he prioritised chess over art: among the top 25 amateurs in the US, representing France in four Olympiads. His play was solid, at times brilliant, but showed a tendency for endgame errors. Tom drew attention to the way in which chess strategy had evolved in the 1920’s with ‘hypermodern’ play, which eschewed the classical approach of occupying the central squares, instead pressurising them from peripheral positions. A parallel strategy operates in Duchamp’s art, which itself often featured chess in line with his interest in the game: as in the family scene The Chess Game, 1910, and Portrait of Chess Players, 1911, the cubistic precursor to the conceptual motion of Nude Descending a Staircase, 1912.

Marcel Duchamp: Portrait of Chess Players, 1912
Neil Zakiewicz - How Much Control Is Too Much?
Neil pondered the question ‘how much control is too much?’ in the context of his practice, in which he has often delegated the image production to a car spray paint workshop. In fact, he said, he is keen to maintain as much control as possible, and in that case his instructions were very precise even though he liked the thought that the car workshop staff were disinterested in the aesthetic outcome. Moreover, in his most recent series, which involves graduated spraying, he found it too difficult to give the precision of instruction he felt necessary, and has done the spray painting himself. All the same, he finds and happily accepts that it is the boundaries of the process still beyond his control which are often most fruitful: at the House of St Barnabas, the effects of the wall colour, the cord hanging system, and the shadows.
Emma Cousin - Standing Your Ground
Since starting to explore legs in her paintings, said Emma, she’s revelled in the puns of our physical agency and the formal concerns of making a painting. Thus ‘we stand on the ground, are grounded in history, and paint on a ground’. She imagined all the things that might happen in the Silk Room: dancing, meeting, talking, eating… and made paintings which reflect the room’s elements, using the patterned textures of the walls as a stand-in for the skin that's missing in her cartoonishly painted legs – legs which become a meal in Dinner Table; fit like a puzzle round the mirrored floor patterns of Cutting a Rug; or get painted from the viewpoint of the table at the middle of Bees Knees. That empty centre is the white primer of the painting’s ground. It things not said, not painted. But also the pond of potential paintings, of possible next moves. The ground of absence proves pivotal to how Emma and her work stand their ground.

Michael Stubbs - My Favourite Painters

Paolo Veronese: The Family of Darius before Alexander, 1565-7

Michael talked about the inspiration he has gained from Paolo Veronese (as exemplified by the National Gallery’s The Family of Darius before Alexander, 1565-7, and from the tondi of the contemporary Swiss painter Olivier Mosset (born 1944). The former is his favourite painter from the period during which perspective with a central vanishing point became the accepted language. The latter is a monochrome abstractionist who makes his work in ironic response to Clement Greenberg’s requirement that paintings should emphasise their nature as paint on a flat surface. Such a contrast in perspectives ties into Michael’s aim of setting up collisions of different traditions which arrive at a third place: colour field abstraction (Morris Louis in particular) meets graphic pop (aspects of Warhol) in his own work, but there is also a combination of layered depth with a non-perspectival lack of it. That suggests advertising and screens – and also brings together the not-so-obviously compatible Veronese and Mosset.

Olivier Mosset :  O2, 2015  

Shane Bradford - Painting and Geology

In what could have been a motto for the ‘Show Us Your Process’ room, Shane said that he saw painting as a matter of embodiment, not representation. His work in the show embodies decidedly geological processes. First, because he repeatedly dips his canvases in tanks of paint, building up layers of colour and stalactite formations along their edges. Second, because in the series from which Blueschist is taken, he also dips old clothes from friends and family into paint and presses them against the surface, so adding the strata of the personal histories of the clothing as worn – here pants, vest, T-shirt and bra. Third, because the resulting black and white patterning looks somewhat like marble. Life, he concluded with the flourish of removing his hat to reveal a freshly-shaved head – is, like geology, essentially about change, as illustrated to those in the audience who remembered his hair!
Martine Poppe - The Politics in My Work
Martine talked quite emotionally about how she had been unable to represent the issues she felt strongly about post-Brexit, and was driven into abstraction. Travelling widely in America just prior to Trump’s election, she had then been struck by the extent of the difficulties suffered by the underclass in the US, by the segregation of populations by colour still being the norm in the south, and by the police assumption that as a young white woman she needed protection in black-populated areas - in which she’d actually encountered nothing but friendliness. None of that had felt paintable to her either, but when she talked to and photographed young voters ahead of the poll, she saw a way to represent events– leading to her use of an image silkscreened in printer’s ink. Blue and Brown are half printed, half painted; half representational, half abstract.



Curated by Paul Carey-Kent

Bazalgette Room, the House of St Barnabas, 1 Greek St, Soho Square, London

By appointment via art@hosb.org.uk  5 Jan - 23 June 2017 -
all work for sale


Launch evening 20 January, 6-9 pm, RSVP required

Show Us Your Process features abstract paintings which employ unusual means of making to explore material processes with the potential for broader metaphorical meaning.

What qualities do all paintings have in common? They don’t have to use paint, for example, or be applied on a ground. Perhaps the necessities are only that they use a production process and present abstract qualities - which even a hyper-realist painting will have. Here are nine painters who foreground those two aspects: they use a visible process to make abstract paintings, as if seeking not pure abstraction, but a painting which represents its own making. Moreover, they don't use conventional painting methods, and - consistent with that - they don't pretend to be fully in control. They set the matter running, but chance intervenes, and indeed is welcomed. My selection is of well-established European artists, and you could add Simon Hantaï, Imi Knoebel and Bernard Frize as prominent practitioners. Young American painters have recently gained considerable market favour through work of this sort. Some of them are indeed interesting, but should there be more attention paid to Europeans who were using comparable processes well before them?

The emphasis on process may sound an inward-looking game, but there is considerable pleasure in deducing the method used and seeing how its logic leads to the result. Yet the world does enter in various ways, and that provides an additional subject. Tony Charles and DJ Simpson set up a clash between the forces of art and industry, and both use mechanical tools to subtract material as their primary means of intervention. Alexis Harding encourages gravity to do its stuff, while Daniel Lergon provides chemical analogues for the formation of the cosmos, and Shane Bradford combines a geologically styled process with a personalised one. The deconstruction of painterly tradition is particularly clear in Jonathan Parsons' reversal of normal figure / ground relations, Tom Hackney letting Duchamp’s non-art production determine the form of his modernist grids, and Neil Zakiewicz entrusting a third party with his chance element so that – reversing the norm – he makes the surface but doesn't paint it. Michael Stubbs may not use a brush, but does employ classic pop and abstract expressionist moves – yet in an ironic and confusingly layered manner.

All of which could result in clever but inert paintings: the key is that it doesn't – the nine processes have led to nine distinctive and dynamic abstract aesthetics.  

Alexis Harding

Clockwise Stoppage (pusher),  2012

Oil and gloss on MDF - 44cm diameter

Alexis Harding’s entropic abstracts start rapidly as he pours household gloss onto a ground of incompatible oil paint. Then they develop over months as chemical interaction, gravity and rotation collide contingency and control to arrive at a point of suspended movement suggesting, perhaps, the skin of a body in time as well - in this tondo format - as a clock.

Daniel Lergon

Untitled, 2013

Water on pulverised iron on canvas - 60 x 40cm

Berlin based Daniel Lergon uses a wide range of non-paint materials to blend of science and art, investigating the fundamentals of both painting and the universe. Here pulverised iron is ‘painted’ with water, so that forms emerge out of the resulting oxidisation as rust. Colour created by such direct chemistry connects to Lergon’s wider investigations of cosmic history.

DJ Simpson

Simple Paths, 2016

Colorcore on Birch plywood - 51.5 x 51.5 cm

DJ Simpson arrives at a distinctive language by combining the found object with expressive gesture, so riffing on both conceptual and painterly traditions. He uses an electrical router to cut into and expose a layered support, ‘drawing’ or ‘painting’ by an industrial means which sculpturally removes the surface instead of marking it.

Jonathan Parsons

You Are Good for Me, 2003

Oil on linen - 66 x 56 cm
Here Jonathan Parsons transcribes a photograph of a found gestural form onto canvas, masks the shape with tape, and then applies what appears to be the 'background' colour so that a ‘reverse painting’ results: made in the opposite way to the spontaneous original and flipping the relationship between 'figure' and 'ground'.

Michael Stubbs

Ef Ex Head #1, 2012

Household paint and tinted floor varnish on mirrored aluminium on mdf  - 50x40cms

Michael Stubbs makes his paintings on the floor either by pouring household paint and tinted varnishes or by painting stencilled motifs onto coated boards (in this case mirrored aluminium) or placing stencils in the pour to be removed after drying. The resulting simultaneous optical effects suggest the layered screens of computing.  

Neil Zakiewicz

Slim Chance, 2016  (shown as installed)

Polyurethane paint on MDF - 61 x 80cm

Neil Zakiewicz often outsources the spray painting of his MDF constructions to a car workshop. He provides just a rough 2D sketch as the plan, and so cedes control of how the raised elements in his carpentry will generate irregularities. ‘Slim Chance’ is cut to suggest movement through two squares that are separating or merging. 

Shane Bradford

Blueschist, 2014

Household gloss paint, metallic emulsion on canvas on board - 45 x 41.5cm

Shane Bradford has long used dipping as a method of painting, evidenced in ‘Bluechist’ by the small stalactites at its edge. This is combined with a more recent method of printing from used clothing soaked in emulsion: so geological time meets personal time in a series named by types of rock. 

Tom Hackney

Chess Painting No. 93 (Duchamp vs. Renaud, Strasbourg, 1924), 2016

Gesso on linen, oak frame - 34 x 34 cm
Tom Hackney depicts the chess games of Marcel Duchamp – who famously claimed to have given up art for the game – by translating each move into a layer of black or white gesso. If no piece passed, a square remain unpainted; if many did, a sculptural relief is formed on the grid.

Tony Charles

Uncovered, 2016

Gloss paint and resin on aluminium - 60x40cm

Charles (who also runs the Platform-A gallery in Middlesbrough) utilises his experience in the steel construction industry to scrape back painted aluminium, erasing the image so far as possible within a set time limit. The grind marks emerge - paradoxically - as the most painterly aspect, as highlighted by the final step of painting over a layer of semi-reflective resin.        

Installation Views

At the launch event 20 Jan:



Curated by Paul Carey-Kent

Silk Room, the House of St Barnabas, 1 Greek St, Soho Square, London

By appointment via art@hosb.org.uk 5 Jan - 23 June 2017 -
all works for sale


Launch evening 20 January, 6-9 pm, RSVP required

All works for sale - enquiries via HoSB as above or paulcareykent@gmail.com

We always wonder: what's happening on The Other Side?  First, perhaps, we'd better sort whether were looking in or out. The Silk Room has an attractive window of its own, but Aglaé Bassens gives us more. Are we the looker in or the subject of the gaze? And - if the former - what do we see? Martine Poppe explores our interaction with the camera from the other side of the pond. Emma Cousin, in a different avoidance of the full view, is currently concentrating on legs - and on the other side of this room's potential uses, as a place of meeting, eating and dancing. As indeed, does Jane Hayes Greenwood. Her figures seem to be the other side of flesh and blood - more objects, diagrams or images of images than people, though that doesn't seem to restrict their appetites. All in all, then, it's a puzzle to know where to look and what to make of the characters we find in this pattern-heavy room of four representational female painters, just the other side of the real, perhaps, and just the other side of the wall which divides them from nine male abstractionists tackling the Bazalgette's rich red. Which other side, you might ask, are you on?

Emma Cousin

Dinner party, 2016

Oil paint on canvas - 100 x 160cm

Emma Cousin (born Dewsbury, 1986) is currently in residence at Wimbledon College of Art and co-organises the curatorial platform Bread and Jam. Her paintings have recently moved from quirkily spinning off a variety of homespun narratives - often with a lively awareness of the body's contingencies - to concentrate on charmingly eccentric explorations of our lower limbs in particular. Cousin's work has an immediate force of personality: even without the benefit of faces, you sense the artist behind them. They have the energy and some of the moves of cartoons without looking at all like them. The conversational titles - Cousin is also a poet of some vim - cue you in to everyday phrases which, together with their pictorial retelling, make up a freshly minted 'language of legs' (in which 'business' is spelt 'beesknees'.).

Cutting a Rug, 2016

Oil on canvas - 120 x 100cm


Beesknees, 2016

Oil on canvas - 120 x 100cm

Aglaé Bassens

Scaling Up, 2016

Oil on canvas - 170 x 130 cm

Franco-Belgian Aglaé Bassens (born Mons, 1986) has a way of making something out of nothing by gracefully uncovering the atmospheric melancholy in such 'non-subjects' as empty fish tanks, shirts and sofas so that, in her words, the paintings 'oscillate between presence and absence, the revealed and the concealed, the available and the inaccessible'. Like Poppe, she paints much less objectively than a cursory glance suggests, as her characteristically long, swift strokes bring character to the would-be-minimal. For 'The Other Side' Bassens uses apparently viewless windows and contextless curtains to both reflect on the flatness of the pictorial canvas surface versus the depth of illusion of a painted image, and to comment on how we divide space and create boundaries both physically and socially.

Painting On The Fence, 2016

Oil on canvas - 90 x 45 cm

Exclusive Geometry, 2016

Oil on canvas - 61 x 92 cm

It's A Bit Thin, 2016

Oil on canvas - 45 x 35 cm

Jane Hayes Greenwood

Strung Out, 2016
Acrylic and oil on linen - 55 x 45 cm

Jane Hayes Greenwood (born Manchester, 1986) is the Founding Director of Block 336, an artist-led project space and studio in Brixton and a Fine Art tutor at City & Guilds of London Art School. Like Cousin, she responds directly to the presence of a dinner table in the Silk Room. That suits the recent development in her work from exploring the nature of objects and our relations to them, to feeding gastronomic and erotic imagery through a distorting lens, drawing our attention to sex and food as parallel areas of consumption.  There's something logical yet comic about the way she sets these two appetites in dialogue,  exploring them via their cultural representations -  and makes us wonder, through sly art historical references, just where our desire for aesthetic experience fits in. 

A Sweet Tooth, 2016

Acrylic and oil on linen - 120 x 90 cm

Eat Your Greens, 2016 
Acrylic and oil on linen - 120 x 90 cm

How Does Your Garden Grow, 2016

Acrylic and oil on linen - 55 x 45 cm

Standing In Position, 2016
Acrylic and oil on linen - 55 x 45 cm

Martine Poppe

A little paradoxically, Martine Poppe (born Oslo 1988) explores the impact that the new millennial ubiquity of photography has on our lives by using alluring painting techniques to negotiate between the mechanical and handmade. She has previously veiled the surface by painting opalescently on polyester restoration fabric, so turning the underlying image ghostly. Here, noticing how behaviour can change when a group of people realise that photographs are being taken, she supplies 'before' and 'after' shots she took of a voter and a protest group around the recent US presidential election. They typify individual and social engagement with both image-making and politics. In line with that more direct engagement, Blue and Brown combine photographic ink transfer and paint on the same surface, ramping up the immediacy.


Oil and ink on taffeta - 160 x 110 cm


Brown, 2016

Oil and ink on taffeta

Installation views

At the launch event 20 Jan:

About Me

My photo
Southampton, Hampshire, United Kingdom
I was in my leisure time Editor at Large of Art World magazine (which ran 2007-09) and now write freelance for such as Art Monthly, Frieze, Photomonitor, Elephant and Border Crossings. I have curated 20 shows during 2013-17 with more on the way. Going back a bit my main writing background is poetry. My day job is public sector financial management.