The Same For Everyone
Taking a cue from Nathan Coley's seminal text work, currently on display in London as part of ‘Sculpture in The City’, Parafin’s summer programme creates a series of shifting dialogues and encounters between works by the artists the gallery represents. Coley’s work highlights the ambiguity of language, and can be read as a statement of fact, an exhortation, a critique or even a lament, and this series of staged encounters will be similarly open. Multiple potential meanings are produced by changing contexts. Every week a different group of works will be placed ‘in focus’ in the front part of the gallery's main space, while the rest of the gallery will be given over to an ongoing group hang.
Week 1: Tim Head and Melanie Smith
22 – 25 July 2020
The first encounter is between a group of Melanie Smith's 'diagram paintings' and Tim Head's seminal 1980s painting, Frozen Planet (1988). In these works Head and Smith explore the role of information in shaping (and perhaps distorting) our world views. Smith's paintings present anonymous diagrams shorn of all data referents and Head's work utilises satellite imaging of the oceans. Lacking any context, the images become abstracted yet also ominous.
Week 2: Indrė Šerpytytė and Uwe Wittwer
29 July – 1 August 2020
The second encounter is between a work from Indre Šerpytytė’s 'Pedestal' series and a group of recent paintings by Uwe Wittwer. Both artists explore questions around history and memory and in particular the legacy of trauma.
Šerpytytė’s series 'Pedestal' addresses the gulf between past and present by contrasting archival images of statues of Lenin and Stalin, once sited in grand public spaces in Lithuania, with their current existence in Lithuania’s Grutas Park, a kitsch ‘ostalgia’ theme park. While elements of the composite images are congruent, suggesting continuity, there is a sharp contrast between the black and white archival photographs and the richly coloured contemporary images.
Pedestal, Neckerchiefs (2017) is accompanied by an audio piece, Toppled (2016). For this work the artist employed a professional narrator specialising in film and television descriptions for the blind to interpret footage compiled by the artist of the dismantling of public monuments after the disintegration of the Soviet Union. The audio descriptions, presented without emotional inflection, often focus on unexpected or surreal details and provide an arresting counterpoint to the images of the statues.
Wittwer’s paintings are based on archival images of East German ‘Pioneer’ camps. The idea of the camp, with its contradictory associations with leisure and imprisonment, home and displacement, is a theme that Wittwer has returned to many times in his career. In a series of watercolours derived from holiday postcards, the imagery is disrupted by the poignant messages sent home written on the reverse of the cards. In the large oil painting Flags (2018), a seemingly innocent image becomes allusive and ominous as red paint resembling blood runs, drips and stains the ground.