An informal expression for a roughly organised assembly of individuals of various backgrounds, appearance and character. They are typified by containing characters of conflicting personality and usually a wide array of methods of overcoming adversity.
Christian Larsen is pleased to present A Motley Crew featuring five UK based artists Caroline Achaintre, Melinda Gibson & Thomas Sauvain, Olivia Bax and Ross Taylor. Although there may not be one prevailing theme that unites the artists featured, there are strands and commonalities that thread themselves throughout, from the immediacy and malleability of their mediums and material to the feeling that each of the artists imbue their work with multiple personalities, never quite resolving into one thing or the other, but existing as their own distinctive selves.
The ambiguous and grimacing ceramics of Caroline Achaintre are imbued with a sense of presence and personality, creating an aura of both gentle menace and playfulness. Each one is folded, gathered and punctured to form anthropomorphic masks sitting somewhere between abstraction and figuration, human and animal. I create my own world in a way, characters that coexist with each other, sometimes within one piece…It is a fusion of the mask and the bearer of it, they are both real. There is more than one persona within one being (Caroline Achaintre interview, Aesthetica, 15 July 2016).
Developing upon this idea of multiple personalities, the works Olivia Bax has created for A Motley Crew oscillate somewhere between confrontation and humour. In Pinned, 2017 Bax presents sculptural ‘twins’, each one displaying visual commonalities while at the same time offering the viewer unique and individual personalities. Utilising materials such as clay and paper pulp Bax moulds and squeezes these around metal armatures creating a sculptural language rich in marks, signs and repetition. Bax is interested in highlighting the unique quality of each single entity and often these experiments allude to the playful nature of a space between two and three dimensions.
Melinda Gibson & Thomas Sauvin started their Lunar Caustic series in 2014. The images, made from a salvaged archive of Chinese vernacular negatives, have been bathed in acid distorting their hues and tones, freckling the surfaces with marks and spots. The records have been preserved but only to be handed over to the alchemic forces of acid and silver nitrate, transforming themselves beneath rich clouds of dis-colouration and corrosion and presenting a constant shifting of image between abstraction and representation. There is a beautiful temporality to each image produced, the pieces twist, turn and evolve in their own unstable manner, until they choose when is the time to rest in existence.
Ross Taylor’s paintings and drawings develop over many months of working and re-working. Canvas and paper are folded and stored in the studio where crinkles and creases develop over time, etching a history and life into the fabric of the work before a mark is even laid down. Taylor’s process of gradual layering of mark and image display a concern with a language that is non-specific, a kind of poetry where only condensations appear on the surface, attempting to model thoughts and ideas that seem to be impossible in a physical realm. In A Motley Crew, Taylor presents a series of works on paper and board created over a 2-year period. Within the surface of each work there is always an allusion to another space, shifting illusively between known and unknowns, dreams and reality, abstract forms and flickers of recognisable beings.