I’m always intrigued by the paths and directions artists take in their work.
Whilst there are many artists happy to produce work in the same style over long periods of time, most of the ones I meet are constantly pushing forward and unable to rest with same old, same old.
But there are times when it can be particularly challenging to shift direction in terms of expression and output, even if the guiding spirit and conceptual approach remains constant. Critical success, commercial success and even the making of groundbreaking innovative work could all in theory act as a brake on future progression.
Jackson Pollock always springs to mind when I ponder on this question. What would he have done, how would his work have developed, would, in fact, his work have developed in a different direction had he lived another forty-odd years? How do you feel moving on and away having introduced a radically novel artistic language to the world?
I was thinking about this question again when I went along to the Poppy Sebire gallery exhibition of new work from Boo Ritson.
When I first encountered Boo Ritson’s series of photographed painted subjects, I was completely fascinated both by the techniques she employed but also by the extraordinary images she created. I was lucky enough then to have a tutorial with her when she came to talk at Leeds Metropolitan university about 5 years ago (though it was less tutorial and more an absorbing discussion about work, which is always a productive thing as far as I’m concerned.)
But the big question I pondered was where would it lead? The art was so distinctive, so intriguing, that I couldn’t wait to see how and where she went next.
And seeing this latest exhibition, it all makes perfect sense although it’s a very different body of work, comprising constructed digital landscape and other collages reflecting a popularly imagined USA. They are striking, oddly surreal images. At a distance, real yet not real, and give rise to the same slightly disquieting eeriness of the photographic portrait series. The elements which were used in creating the images were taken from British landscape features, but despite this paradox, it is the manipulation and assemblage of the fragments which prompts the uncanny nature of the work.
Though disquieting, I like it, but that’s probably not surprising in view of my own predilection for digital constructions of my imagined/experienced realities. It works at a number of levels, and I’m pleased to have had one long-standing question answered.
The exhibition is on until 5 May 2012