In the game of art, it would be more than a cliché to say that many are called but few are chosen. That is, artists who sit in their studios churning out works – no matter how exceptional – and waiting for curators and gallery directors to come knocking are likely to wait a while… sometimes a lifetime. That is perhaps why there is a long tradition of artist-run spaces in London. Why wait when you can take matters in your own hands?
Transition gallery is the brainchild of painter Cathy Lomax who transformed the unit 25a of the Regent Studios, off Andrews Road in Hackney, into a flexible display space. Since its inception in 2002, Transition Gallery has expanded to spawn Transition Editions which now publishes the occasional book as well as three regular magazines: Arty, Garageland and The Critical Friend and a few “Tranzines” (i.e. Transition-fanzines). As if this was not a sufficient demonstration of business acumen via diversification, there is now a “Transition shop” to cater to all your arty needs, whether you’re looking for a unique art work, a limited edition or just a badge.
(interview with CathyLomax in 2009)
Let’s not forget the art… The current exhibition, on display until the 19th of June is entitled Exam. Are you getting the cold sweats that accompany the familiar recurring nightmare where you show up in class only to learn that you haven’t prepared for your GCSEs? Fear not, the title that curator Edd Pearman dreamed up for this group show refers to the privileged, and sometimes difficult, position that artists are in when it comes to examining social norms.
As suggested by Pearman “Exam. is a study of externalized anti-social existentialism. An exhibition of art, which operates outside of, or discusses accepted communal norms and customs.” If it sounds abstract, it’s because it is but don’t be put off by a little excess of curatorial babble, the works by Alex Ball, Matt Brown, Adam Dix, Julie Cockburn, Adam James, Boo Saville and Ceal Warnants are actually worth seeing.
Alex Ball’s paintings are minimal yet quite dark and executed with an almost clinical precision that only heightens their surreal horror. Boo Saville’s drawings can only be described as “Gothic with a sense of humour” and Adam Dix’s paintings of people engaged in strange rituals of veneration involving satellite dishes, antennas and other technological means of communication present a disquieting dystopia that might not be so far from the truth. If you don’t much care to explore the darker side of life, just wait for Mock Tudor, the next show starting on the 18th of June at an off-site location close to Ravenscourt Park in West London. This one promises to appropriate and reinterpret the pomp and kitsch of the Elizabethan era in an ambitious post-modern twist that will leave the fans of The Tudors wanting more.