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London: Cork Street Open Exhibition 2010Latest News ->

Thurs 05 Aug, 2010.

The Cork Street Open Exhibition has garnered a prestigious international reputation in its three years of existence, and after attending the 2010 private viewing on opening day, Wednesday 4 August, SDk can appreciate why this is the case. This year’s event attracted more than 1,200 entries, from which a panel of five judges drawn from the UK art world selected some 100 works of contemporary painting, photography, graphic art, sculpture, original prints and mixed media for exhibition.

SDk particularly appreciated the sociopolitical comment in Hey, Are You a Terrorist?, a drawing–collage by the young Finnish artist Toni Toivonen (judge’s choice, runner up), and the urban landscape paintings The Alley Way and Urban Scene, in oils by American artist Courtland Blade and in acrylic by English artist Keith Krzywicki, respectively.

Also catching our eye was the unmistakably Dali-esque Vertigo, in oils by Lindsay Pickett (UK), and Cows Crossing, a digital work by Irish artist Christine Simpson, as well as what might be termed the “Freudian surrealism” of A Place Beneath the Surface by London-based photographer Dominic Hawgood.

Hey, Are You a Terrorist? Urban Scene A Place Beneath the Surface

Other artists in this exhibition hint at the influence of Surrealism, which seems to be enjoying some renewed popularity of late (as will be supported by a forthcoming SDk Latest News item on The Surreal House, currently showing at the Barbican Art Gallery in London). Among their number are the UK’s Ivan Green (Covert of the Maze and Groves of Stowe, from his “Stowe Series”), and Italian Losan Piatti (Times and Pianoforte Inuocato).

Another of our firm favourites is In the Cherry Blossom’s Shade There is No Stranger, a photographic print on canvas by young British artist Emma Taggart. We found Hovercraft Honey, a photograph by Sir Colin Hampden-White, to be alluring by managing to combine the plush with the industrial and by being somehow yet-not-quite fetishistic. Colin Bailey’s fascinating etching of the clock mechanism in the tower of St Mary’s Church in Rye (UK), Calling Time, is, as the artist has commented, reminiscent of the work of 18th century Italian artist Giambattista Piranesi, but is also evocative of M. C. Escher, conjures something of the spirit of the socio–industrial noir of Fritz Lang’s iconic 1927 film, Metropolis, and is also vaguely surrealistic. Perhaps Bailey would be surprised at these allusions – they are not generally applicable to his other work – but Calling Time commands attention and respect for the art of the printmaker.

Demonstrating the diversity of this exhibition is Pickup Putdown, the delightfully quirky and, yes, uplifting, “audio sculpture” by award-winning young British artist–composer Janek Schaefer; and a humorous work vaguely suggesting a cross between Marcel Duchamp and Banksy, The Physical Impossibility of a 300-Bedroom Gloucestershire Mansion in the Mind of a Sardine, by British artist EEL. Another sculpture, Fetal Prayer, is in more traditional bronze but is nevertheless more disturbing than either of the other pieces mentioned above, and is a fitting ambassador for the work of American artist Todd Amann.

Cows Crossing Calling Time Fetal Prayer

Many other works present great artistic merit and vision, and, in short, most visitors should find something they especially like, and no doubt many pieces will sell. Cork Street Open Exhibition director Kathryn Roberts founded the event to showcase the work of emerging and established artists and, at the same time, to raise both money for and the profile of a different children’s charity each year; investment in any of the work on display will this year benefit Children with Leukemia, and, of course, will contribute to the still-gathering momentum of this annual exhibition and charity event.

The private viewing also presented a bonus in the form of a “live performance” by Roberts’ daughter Rochelle, whose statuesque figure was transformed by makeup artist and body painter Carolyn Roper. Roper, a two-times World Body-Painting Champion, made of her subject a fusion of angel and exotic bird, which was then unveiled as a semi-nude, living sculpture.

A performance of a different kind was turned on by John Bird MBE, founder of The Big Issue, which is one of the exhibition’s major sponsors. Bird, an artist himself, delivered, with great gusto and much gesturing, a rousing exhibition-opening speech that literally laid bare his street credentials in his own words as he almost sang the praises of entrepreneurship and pledged his ongoing support for the annual Cork Street Open Exhibition.

The third Cork Street Open Exhibition is hosted by The Gallery in Cork St and its sister gallery, Gallery 27, at 27–28 Cork Street, London W1S 3NG. The exhibition runs to 13 August, and is open 10:00 to 18:00 Monday to Saturday.

Text copyright © SomethingDark 2010. Images copyright © Toni Toivonen, Keith Krzywicki, Dominic Hawgood, Christine Simpson, Colin Bailey, Todd Amann, and Cork Street Open Exhibition 2010. All rights reserved.