Th-th-th-that's all folks! @ Castlefield Gallery
Emoji summary: 🐔🙃⚽️
you kno how you can hold something at arm’s length and see that it’s done well, but it’s not something you personally can enjoy? Like, for me that includes Michael Bublé, Twin Peaks, ferrero rocher, and the notable achievements of men throughout history (my boyfriend suggested I add that last one to the list, the bastard). Well that is my review of group show Th-th-th-that's all folks! at Castlefield Gallery;; that I could quickly appreciate its production value, exhibition conceptualising and branding too, but I really didn’t want to stick around because a lot of the art went through me. (i did tho, i sat myself on a step and wrote notes bc i am a critic and the show deserved I think it through to the end).
The exhibition was put together by Rhino, the collaborative identity of Liam Fallon, Tulani Hlalo, Emily Chapman and Meghan Smith; and it had a tonne of artists inside it includin Jamie Fitzpatrick, Maria Gondek, Amy Kim Grogan, Alfie Kungu, Millie Layton, James Lomax, Milly Peck and Dominic Watson. of course,, it’s no one’s fault I didn’t feel good when I was there, and I’m not naming names to blame. Art cannot personally cater to you. an artist is not your boyfriend trying to buy you the perfect birthday present. visiting exhibitions is a lottery of all the weird emotions the art might give u either individually, or when it is brought together. and in this instance i was ITCHY, or like my bones had been pulled out of my skin cartoon-style and put back in the wrong way so i was wobbly. there’s a few reasons for that uneasiness, but 1 disclaimer might be that I go to so many exhibitions and events that even though I don’t want it to, art is becoming referential to other art I’ve seen, and it now confuses the atmosphere of a curated space./ too many perfumes in one room/. I’m dizzy when Alfie Kungu’s painting made it feel like I was walking into the now-deceased basement Limoncello; the row of naked blue chickens hanging upside down by Amy Kim Grogan brought me to a Goldsmiths degree show; and Millie Layton’s kinetic yellow sculptures, weirdly, to a CBBC children’s show set. the artworks were stretching outwards to these references, instead of looking like a part of their own exhibition here at Castlefield. so singular, like the ship was leaking or something, or light was bleeding out.
more so than context, the actual aesthetic experiences of many of these pieces - I’m like, shaking my head as I type this - I couldn’t handle them. relatable: the big film projected across the gallery wall by Dominic Watson had a soundtrack of lips smacking together that became the soundtrack to everything there, and it really tested me. its actual narrative was artsy-incoherent, like Horrible Histories but boring, and even its colours put me off. There was a shower set up on another wall by Maria Gondek but the shower head was one of those hemisphere party disco balls that throws out colours. it was like a Ryan Gander punchline, a bit blunt or smug?; compact in that frieze-able way. The twirling yellow sculptures i’ve already mentioned looked like nik naks had come to life (nik naks, as in, the crisps), and reminded me of The Simpsons claymation moments. Jamie Fitpatrick’s waxy conglomerate figures depress me, partly because they look like someone has killed Morph from art attack and done some human centipeding with the remains, and partly because whenever I see his work it looks exactly the same as last time and I feel like i’m being betrayed.
there were so many points i was dismayed at, and i’d actually read the press release this time (get me) and knew it was supposed to be a light naive fuck-it of an exhibition so either my reaction was naturally blasphemous or the curation was not tight enough. the double-height wall in the gallery had been painted like a toy story sky by Rhino themselves, and there were circle stickers running through the show of dinosaur-imprinted ham by Amy Grogan. i think the effort was towards happiness but the space was more cynical than that/ and I was confused as to whether some of my bad feelings were simply a difference in taste or if the mood has been mishandled;; especially when amongst it all, there were these two very genuine paintings downstairs by Alfie Kungu of the long colour-blocked legs of people playing football. they had nike shoes on and wore adidas three stripe pants, and i liked the mismatch, the anonymity, their size and the wide thin supports they were painted on. They didn’t feel contrived in the way his upstairs painting had, of ‘Hammered Nails’ with clown smiles on their heads. frankly i couldn’t believe they’d been made by the same artist. Bc where nothing else had convinced me, the football paintings had - and I think convincing, transformation, sincerity is what i look for in art. maybe it is what I need if these pieces felt like relief amongst the rest of the comedy.
Th-th-th-that’s all folks! was like I was in the audience of a stand-up show or open mic night i mostly didn’t vibe with - until these football paintings, when it was as tho someone had come onto the stage and read a poem instead. I clung on to them a bit bc they felt like someone I wanted to be with. i’m glad I stayed. this was me thinking it through to the end.