Review of Stuckism: Remodernising the Mainstream at the Studio 3 Gallery
Gless Fuentebella reviews the Studio 3 Gallery’s newest exhibition, which opened its doors at the beginning of October, and introduces the university to the dynamic works of the Stuckist artists.
Stuckism: Remodernising the Mainstream gives respect to the contemporary figurative painting and celebrates the international expansion of the originally British Stuckist art movement. The exhibition was arranged by the Studio 3 Gallery MA Curating group in collaboration with some of the featured Stuckist artists, including Charles Thomson who co-founded the movement alongside Billy Childish in 1999.
Emerging in an era where contemporary art is associated with conceptual artwork, digital and performance art, Stuckism is a movement that opposes the so-called conceptual purpose embedded in mainstream art, rebelling against Postmodernist ideals and conventions and arguing the case for “Remodernism”. The movement focuses predominantly on paintings, with artists recycling techniques from the 19th Century and taking inspiration from the Punk Rock genre of the 1970s.
Although all of the Stuckist artists belong to the same movement, it’s evident that there is an elaborate contrast in the mood than can be captured through their work. Jasmine Surreal’s acrylic paintings, for example, generally appeared cartoon-like, where inanimate objects were given faces and brought to life. There is a sense of playful humour in their composition and in the literal titles of the artworks, for example “A ghost paints himself as his ancestors” presents exactly what is stated. The light-hearted mood conveyed in Surreal’s paintings contrasts greatly with Charles Williams’ displayed work. His still-life paintings are composed of dark colours with images of skulls present in each of the pieces. The inanimate objects were realistic and not personified as they were in Surreal’s paintings.
Many of the paintings also varied in texture and technique, with some being distinctly more detailed and precise than others. The technique used in Joe Machine’s Noah Walks with God consists of detailed lines that vary in thickness, creating a different texture for each image on the canvas. For example, each wheat grain in the painting has been intricately drawn out in order to be symmetrical with another. The precision and patience apparent in his paintings differ from Adam Crosland’s Farmyard Dreams, where the technique appears pleasantly child-like, sloppy, and even seems unfinished.
Despite these differences, Stuckists share the same idea that figurative painting is about what appears on the canvas. The exhibition allows us to enjoy the paintings in their entirety, appreciating every material element that is physically present. There is no painting that is more valuable than another because there are qualities to appreciate in each work of art. The exhibition also reflects on a theoretical cycle amongst art and literature movements, such as Modernism and Post-modernism, where ideas from previous movements are recycled and reintroduced as contemporary. It makes us question: are current contemporary art forms too vague and vast? Are they creating emptiness within art that unintentionally loses its value as a physical product?
Stuckism: Remodernising the Mainstream is a reflective collection of artworks that are pleasing to the eye and to the mind – it’s definitely an exhibition worth experiencing!
The exhibition will be running from 1 October until 11 December 2015 in the Studio 3 Gallery, situated in the School of Arts building at the University of Kent. For more information visit their website here.