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Ian Dawson

Matt Franks

Brian Griffiths

Sheena Macrae

Jen Wu

Denise Kum

Ian Dawson
'The Immortals' is a recent sculpture in a current and on-going series where Dawson destroys a piece of Styrofoam by applying layer after colourful layer of polyester resin. The Resin acts as a highly corrosive material eating into and through the foam only stopping its destructive path when its exothermic reaction stops and the resin solidifies. The original form has changed into a bejewelled yet pockmarked landscape, an acidscape.
The two collages 'Manhattan' and 'Sheffield' use 2 very different photographic scenes, one a domestic kitchen scene the other a landscape shot from a recently air-bound plane. In both instances the images have been obliterated by the overlaying of screen printed geometric patterns. A pattern of holes punched out of the photograph reveals and allows a glimpse of an under-layer of colour from more screen printed patterns. The dislocation from image is made complete when the punched holes are then repositioned on surface of the image.
In 'The Immortals' Dawson asks us to look at a corrosive action with the same set of values as a semi precious rock. Whilst in 'Sheffield' and 'Manhattan' Dawson portrays a world in layers with images hovering between abstraction and recognition.

Matt Franks (From Art Now, Tate Britain)
Though considered at the time to be witty and irreverent, the sculptures of the New Generation are quite minimal and restrained in their form.
Far from restrained, transcendent plastic infinite is an explosion of fantastical shape. This element of fantasy is born of the influence of cartoon creations such as The Ren and Stimpy Show, The brothers Grunt, and the work of Robert Crumb including Felix the Cat and The Snoids - all of which are both mainstream and subversive.
Recognizable elements and iconographical motifs from the cartoons are incorporated and fused with sculptural shapes that allude to the work of Modernist sculptures. The humor of the popular culture cartoon elements undercuts and lampoons the serious ideals of high cultural Modernism, bringing it resoundingly back down to earth.
An ovoid form with holes, recalling the work of Barbara Hepworth, oozes and drips with gunge and mucus as if it is a diseased living being - its supposed organic nature taken to extremes. Elsewhere, a star shaped block, similar to a piece by Jean Arp, grows hair and farts from orifices - the abject nature of the life or essence it is meant to possess sullying its purity. There is a Surrealist tendency pervading Franks’ strange and uneasy comic creation, which may explain the affinity to Hepworth and Arp’s biomorphic forms.

Brian Griffiths
Relating to cornations and all things Royal, this assemblage of object contains metal biscuit tins, trays and balls, each hand engraved. Some of the original pattern remains on some of the pieces creating a confusing but exquisite antique-like patina. The assemblage forms the shape of a crown or helmet-head shape.

Sheena McRae
These large-scaled works on paper and canvas approach drawing in a multiplicity of ways by using the casual doodle as a starting point.
The work exploits the hand made mark to replicate and corrupt the perfect logical beauty of the complex logarithmic languages of fractals and wire frame graphics. The fallible wobble of the hand drawn gesture replaces the certainties of the machine-coded world.
The drawings are made using model-makers tape, airbrush and rapidograph pens, the outmoded tools of the graphic designer of the past. This is combined with abstraction reminiscent of modernist and futurist movements and the utopian stylization found in formal rigorous concerns.
The work deliberately exploits the ambiguities of form suggesting a rambling set of associations - exercises in geometry, crystalline structures, galactic imaginings or complex maps of tiny micro machines and their silicone anatomies. The drawings have a sense of pleasure in the detailed, meticulous rendering of lines to form a landscape of structures and patterns against flat grounds of color.

Jen Wu
Jen Wu is a video performance and installation artist. Her often large and chaotic installations feature many simultaneous performance endurance video works in and amongst a setting of sculptures, furniture, building materials and her own clothing and items. The prevalent sense is that of a fragmented real time document of unfixed identities.
In some video works Wu seems to play out a role of fashion model, presenting an ambivalent position of self-exploitation. In other works she merely documents parts of her life; sleeping, driving, sex and boredom are combined with a dense paraphernalia of furniture, vintage fur coats and fabrics have an air of turn of the century decadence, the boudoir. The building materials acts as a stand-in for identity in progress/dismantled.
The aura of the social animal, the sexual libertine is forceful but compellingly at odds with the inaction and the traumatic document presented in the endurance video works. Whilst embracing the sense of the Self inhabiting the Social, Wu tears apart self worth and self-image, presenting herself often as fractured or merely blank.

Denise Kum (Toxic taste, by Giovanni Intra (China Art Objects))
Situated between Chinoiserie and rococo decadence, Denise Kum’s art engages an anthropological dandyism; it is never what it is supposed to be. Utilizing multiple tropes of display, she traffics substances into the gallery from the supermarket and the laboratory, transforming them into essays on the uncanniness of shape and form. Whether food or chemicals, we are confronted with both the delectable and the poisonous.
In this sense, her installations in New Zealand and Australia since 1991 have amounted to a flotilla of migrating materials, a cargo cult of rarefied oddities. Kum arranges alluring concoctions of smell, heat, and movement; the results transport in the same way as the glazed ducks turning perpetually in the windows of Chinese restaurants. But whereas it is often drenched in its own materiality - literally up to its elbows in what Robert Morris described as the "stuff" and "slime" available to artists since Minimalism - Kum’s work continues to dabble in the phenomenological playdough of sculpture. A sensory encyclopedia, the tactile and olfactory delicacies she offers are considerable. Lotus leaves, for instance, simmer under hot lamps; dried, salted octopuses cast out wretched odors, and gallons of soy sauce are left to develop lacy islands of turquoise mold.
There is always something tasty about what Kum lays before an audience. But hers is not an art of trifling gratification; or even of disgust for that matter. For these sculptures made from foodstuffs cannot simply be relished as symbolic consommés of Asian culture, or as exotic spices in the seasoning of cultural translation as some have been tempted to assume. Rather, staple truths are put through a strainer.
It cannot be denied that Kum has suffered from a certain culinary reputation - not an entirely inconvenient category in which to place a Chinese woman artist. It is therefore imperative to understand how her recent work has done much to problematize this apparent essentialism. If cultural orality as told through the figure of nutrition remains Kum’s guiding principle, this must now be expanded to include the indigestible by-products of Western society.


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