Jeff Gabel, Mathieu Mercier, Cornelia Parker, David Shrigley, Jane South, Oli Watt, Scott Wolniak
25 July – 13 September, 2003


Opening Reception, Friday July 25th, 6-8pm

Seven artists invite us to reconsider our relationship to the world of objects. Through strategies of displacement, chance, inversion, and humor, their work proposes an atypical functionality that creates anarchic alternative roles for everyday objects and commodities.
Jeff Gabel's small-scale pencil drawings revolve around humble observations of the everyday. Presented together for the first time here are his flag drawings, an apparently arbitrary selection of country flags drawn in pencil that - in their modest scale and hesitancy of execution - serve to strip the flags of any sense of nationalism or stridency.
Mathieu Mercier's work plays with how the gallery context distorts the functionality we might assume to attach to common household and industrial materials. In 'Fils Electriques', frayed ends of electrical wiring appear to sprout dangerously from a wall. But this is art, of course - the piece is a dummy, unconnected to any power source.
Cornelia Parker's 'Different Dirt' series consists of images and texts documenting objects dug up by metal detector enthusiasts in Britain and the U.S. that are offered for sale on EBay. The artist purchases these lots, photographs them, then re-buries the objects at significant and often ironic sites on the opposite side of the Atlantic from which they were found.
David Shrigley's drawings, photographs and sculptures meld the humor of slapstick with the dark philosophical insight of Beckett. Assailed by the vagaries of modern life, his protagonists nevertheless enjoy a revenge of sorts through their hapless misuse of objects for purposes other than that which they were designed for.
Jane South makes fragile sculptural wall relief's and low-tech animations from cut and folded paper. Her 'Floorplan' pieces resemble uncertain models for undististinguished spaces. Their cut and folded, licked and sticked forms act out a kind of pantomime of functionality, extending their inherent anti-logic toward the ultimate contingency - and crazy vanity - of all architectural forms.
Oli Watt's 'Legacy Series' are silkscreen prints that lovingly recreate on a 1:1 scale, sales receipts, tickets, candy wrappers and other detritus that the artist has gathered from the floor of his car over the years. In 'American History' and 'Untitled (Classy)', the artist transforms two school desks, covering one in gum and creating an elaborate carving in tribute to a loved one, on the other.
In his DVD '11/02/00', Scott Wolniak attempts to paint a landscape from the back of a pickup truck as it drives through an industrial suburb of Chicago. With every bump, pothole, and corner that the truck negotiates, the artist is frustrated in his attempt to capture anything meaningful with brushes, paint and canvas. 'Fruit Ghost', on the other hand, proposes a much more serene relationship to the everyday. We see the artist, cookery program-style chopping fruit and vegetables at a counter. As each piece is sliced and diced a ghost image of it's formerly whole self floats off toward heaven.
Through the economy of means with which they create their art, and the way they clearly cherish relationships with everyday objects, the artists in 'Knockabout' underline art - as life - as an ultimately simple endeavor based upon good faith.

Artist Bio

Knockabout is curated by Spencer Brownstone Gallery Assistant Director Mark Orange.

Participating artists:
Jeff Gabel, Mathieu Mercier, Cornelia Parker, David Shrigley, Jane South, Oli and Watt, Scott Wolniak.

Further Reading

Special thanks to all of the participating artists, and to Anton Kern Gallery, New York for the loan of work by David Shrigley; and D'Amelio Terras, New York, for the loan of work by Cornelia Parker.