The next group exhibition at l’étrangère showcases paper as the central material. Whether torn, cut and pasted, daubed with paint, inscribed with lines or layered and photographed, paper is key to the practice of the artists included in the show. The featured artists use found and compound images, new techniques with paint and chance encounters with torn paper, to create intricate works that embody the tears and layers of our contemporary collage-like culture.
The medium of collage has a long and subversive history, one that challenges an “organic model of growth and its classic assumptions of harmony, unity and closure” (Bertolt Brecht). Through a variety of techniques and processes, the works in l’étrangère’s group exhibition explore ways in which the principles of the form are relevant today.
Included in the show are Anita Witek's photographic montages, created with the remnants of deconstructed advertising images from life-style magazines. These paper cut outs are subsequently loosely layered to form new abstract configurations devoid of the original message they were used to create. Jyll Bradley’s ‘light-drawings’ are made using an antiquated photocopier as a primitive camera; as the light sweeps over the images layered on top of the glass of the photocopier it leaves traces on paper and acetate.
Challenging the tradition of collage are Marek Szczęsny and Katie Cuddon who address the medium in different ways. Szczęsny’s works combine paint and torn paper to disrupt the form and line of an abstract study suggesting rupture and displacement. Cuddon’s intricate works on paper draw the eye in to closely examine the surface covered with intense strokes of pencil and ink. Her paper collages fall between abstraction and figuration often suggesting language and the formless in a state of becoming.
Piotr Krzymowski’s works bring a fresh light to the long tradition of collage, utilizing images found in vintage magazines. His décollages are created by layering torn images and paint. These works reflect our current culture by picking up the contemporary thread of reinterpreting interpretation. The evocative prints of Sława Harasymowicz also use found images. The works included in the exhibition are the result of the relatively brutal method of screen-printing on extremely delicate ‘bible’ paper; Harasymowicz is interested in the tension between surface and technique. Her process has a performative element as she peels or, at times, literally tears the prints from the screen-printing membrane, the images materialising as ‘snakeskin’: ambiguous, totally pliable when wet with paint, then drying but retaining their ‘skin-like’ folds.
Mark Corfield-Moore uses the transformative nature of scanning and painting to give form and texture to his works. He photographs, then digitally manipulates his ‘original’ image covered with layers of paint, and presents it as a ‘negative’ impression. These encounters with print layers are echoed in Katharina Marszewski’s practice. Her innovative technique uses lacquer mixed with pigment to create individual imprints on paper. This manual process falls between randomness and control. The seductive layers of abstract images evoke mirroring effect, reflections and blurring boundaries between fantasy and reality.