Change at Crewe
17th January - 14th February 2014
Rachel Busby, Gordon Dalton, Jeffrey Dennis, Maggie James, Neil McNally, Philip Nicol and Andreas Rüthi
“Change at Crewe”
will be the first exhibition in a series of pop-up shows curated and organised by Emrys Williams
at The studio, opening on Friday 17th January 2014 at 19.30pm , all welcome!
The show runs until Friday 14th February 2014.
Location; 23 Augusta Street, Llandudno,LL30 2AD .
Open Wednesday, Thursday and Friday 12pm to 6pm.
The space can be open at other times by appointment please contact me at
“Change at Crewe” is a show that brings seven painters
to Llandudno from London and different parts of South Wales;
Rachel Busby, Gordon Dalton, Jeffrey Dennis, Maggie James,
Neil McNally, Philip Nicol and Andreas Rüthi.
The exhibition explores the liquidity and solidity of painting,
its form and emptiness and the rich potential of sophisticated
dialogues between territories of figuration / abstraction.
“Change at Crewe” celebrates the transitory yet also fixed
nature of the medium, with paintings that combine deliberation
and intuition in inventive ways. The title acknowledges the
gallery location, opposite the train station and also responds
to “Return Journey” a show at Mostyn Gallery which opens
down the road on the same evening.
Introduction to the exhibition
This is an exhibition of modestly sized works by seven painters;
all the individuals have a complex and sophisticated history in
terms of their engagement with art, art schools, connections with
other artists and the art communities of Cardiff and London.
A number of them are also involved in curating shows and writing
about art. In the show there is a lot of knowledge about painting
in a relatively small space.
As all painters know, knowledge does not get you anywhere in
the studio. Painting has to be made anew, in one sense. This is
because it is made of coloured stuff, liquid, fluid, intransigent,
just there coming out of the tube as you squeeze it. People
always think that painters like “paint” as a material, I suppose
they do but perhaps with trepidation; they are involved in a kind
of alchemy where eventually the matter has to become
transformed into something mental, something like thought.
So they are wary of paint, they know what “doubt” is in painting,
that uncomfortable space within the painting process where
everything has gone wrong and you are trying to paint your way
out. You cannot abandon it and, for the moment, you cannot see
a way forward. You are on a journey and you cannot get off the
So real painting is made in the moment, yet it is also timeless in that it has connections with other painting, present and past. Seeing the work of Braque at the Grand Palais Paris this week, in the biggest retrospective of his work ever mounted, I was aware of how relevant his great “Atelier” series of paintings seemed in a postmodern context. All labels of figurative/ abstract/ Cubist seemed irrelevant in these works that dissolved categories in a personal idiom; works that had a great sense of materiality, visual wit,a concern with the painting as an object, a playfulness, lightness and depth. In these late works Braque retreated into a sort of Proustian interiority, where shifting images and fragments are located in a palpable space that feels like a real room, motifs feel both solid and potentially liquid, having the quality of real experience, a state beyond language. The paintings have the mirror-like quality of “being”; sensations and memories that slip away like light on the surface of a river. As a review I read noted, late Braque was rather written off by critics in the nineteen seventies.
I think one could play around with visual and metaphorical links with Braque in relation to the painters in the show. For now lets just go as far as to say they all know what to do with a bit of patterning! I like the fact that in this show there is a rabbit placed some distance from a postcard of a Philip Guston picture , a painting that has some relationship to a Bruce Nauman performance captured in a photograph, a picture that compares a Chinese pot to a piece of wood studded with nails which also suggests a Guston motif; all the artists in the exhibition know about the craft of painting but they are not too entranced by it, they are happy to flip it on its head. All the work is self critical in the best kind of way. The insistence of the small-scale of easel painting is part of this subversion, most of the painters in the show were trained at times in art schools when such a form had little value or relevance in terms of contemporary practise, though times have moved on.
The artists in “Change at Crewe” work in diverse idioms from different histories; I think what unites them is an active interest in what painting can be today together with the development of sophisticated personal visual languages that feel authentic. All are “knowing” and avoid provincial attitudes, making work that demonstrates a high level of conscious deliberation and unconscious realisation through the medium and materiality of paint. I think all employ formal strategies that play around with issues of motif and abstraction, framing and illusion, the represented and the ambiguous or suggestive; all are interested in the power of painting to produce a complete physical object that will hold your gaze, a complete thing with its own self identity. So in the elegance of a well-lit South facing room in Llandudno this show celebrates the work of seven contemporary painters, they may have had to change at Crewe to get here but there is nothing lost in translation.