30 August - 18 September 2011
Opens 6pm Tuesday 30th August 2011
Jess Johnson, Jordan Marani
Colleen Ahern, Thomas Breakwell, Sarah Goffman, Andrew Hurle, Andrew Liversidge, Jordan Marani, Toby Pola, Salote Tawale
DEATH BE KIND are pleased to host artists Jess Johnson and Jordan Marani, co-founders of the infamous Hell Gallery. Both artists have been collaborating together for a number of years. Their projects, whilst comprising of their individual art practices, share the same playground forged from their experiences together overseeing the Hell domain.
Jess Johnson’s intricate felt tip drawings are colorful apertures into agitated psychological states. Incorporating found texts sourced from mass media and true crime, such as “I wish the whole world was a neck and I had my hands around it” (the last words offered by serial killer Carl Panzram as he was led to his execution). Others incorporate dubious truisms for living, passed down through family generations, “If ya don’t go to school ya wont get a job if ya don’t get a job ya don’t work ya don’t work ya don’t eat if ya don’t eat ya don’t shit ya don’t shit ya die”.
Jordan Marani (whilst on recent residency in Liverpool, UK) has produced a prolific deluge of floating portraits, painted on local newsprint. The idiosyncratic cartoon mug shots form a large crowd that hover like ghosts within the gallery space, spewing cartoon speech bubbles that ask plaintive questions and offer ill advise.
In the office space, DEATH BE KIND in collaboration with Danielle Hakim, have curated a show about the poisoned chalice of smoking. Danielle writes;
Smoking when it comes down to it is rebelling against life. You’re killing your self. And you know it. You're holding the smoking gun; your cigarette. Maybe so many artists smoke precisely because it is rebellious, defiant, an active symbol of transgression.
Coleen Ahern’s romantic paintings depicting cigarette-toting celebrities exploit the iconic and seductive allure of cigarettes. Painted post giving up cigarettes, these works are a devotion to smoking itself as much as to the idols they portray. The defiant stances of her subjects seem to be saying So What! We are all going to die! Images like these promise that even if it is poison, that least that you will be cool while you have that cigarette in you hand. Acting out these concerns in her video ‘Smoker’ Salote Tawale, despite her distaste for smoking in each scene, simply just smokes. Using the cigarette as a device to reconstruct images from film and television culture she creates a familiar space where the viewer can enjoy watching the spectacle of smoking a cigarette free of horrifying, guilt ridden ‘smoking is bad for you’ commercials.
Andrew Hurle and Thomas Breakwell works both explore the tracts of urban wilderness finding a common feature; abandoned home-made bongs. Typically made from an evacuated plastic fruit-juice container and a length of garden hose, these makeshift smoking devices are an omnipresent symbol of teenage rebellion. While Breakwell’s photographs show the environments where these ratty teenagers have escaped to smoke, Hurle takes a forensic point of view, removing the evidence from the scene and rendering its form for closer examination.
Toby Pola’s wooden sculptures show cult like figures engaging in self-harm whilst smoking at the same time. Two small figures enjoy their last cigarette while a lover burns flesh. These nihilistic sculptures remind us of smoking’s banal accompaniment with so many activities from the every day to the extremes carved in these tableaus.
Sarah Goffman's sealed Perspex box contains countless green cardboard inserts, each sheet saved upon retirement as protection of the final cigarette paper in the packet, while Andrew Liversidge meditates on the measured time it takes to smoke a cigarette while thinking about smoking it.
And if you think about it; sooner or later, everyone stops smoking.
Hell Gallery website
Andrew Hurle website
Sarah Goffman blog
Colleen Ahern is represented by Neon Parc