Different Strokes

10/04/2009

Sanjay Brown considers the exhibition at the Art Organisation.



Nottingham Cityscape by Paul Griffiths

So, five hundred words to evaluate the work of eight artists. If one does the maths, leaves a little space for hellos and goodbyes, that's fifty words each. Therefore every word in this crisp review must be absolutely to the point directly, no diversions through rose-scented gardens. Picture Hemingway scribbling a haiku whilst running for the last train. Succinct. Plainly manifest. Focused. So here goes. This is it. No more prologues. Or pre-ambles. Nothing. Nothing but art. Starting now.

  
Ian Fink's Rappers Artwork
Ian Fink's triptych embraces Eminem, Nas and who I believe to be Guru Nanak. The rappers are surrounded by some of their most famous and astute lyrics whereas the Holy One stares benignly out for a plain background, satisfied with a deeper level of teaching. Jon Lyons collection consists of a mix of nudes and landscapes, all of which evoke in the viewer a type of artistic melancholy, most notably in 'kids on a piano' a detailed and sensous portrait which perfectly highlights the artists talent for observation and animation of his subjects.
 
Paul Griffith's Nottingham-themed display was for me the highlight of Different Strokes. Like Lyons, Griffiths spilits his time between nude female studies and landscapes. The Nottingham City scenes are styled in sharp, cubist forms painted in a negative pallet which co-opts an edgy, futuristic tone that contrasts superbly with the soft, languid portraits. Ian Croft's painting reminds me of the sort of art presented by venal pensioners on the Antiques Roadshow. Two dogs and a horse, well-rendered and holding some little humanity besides the inevitable furry trappings.
 

Jonny Ramone by Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart's pictures are bright celebrity portraits, Lemmy of Motorhead, the woman from Chocolat and Johnny Ramone feature. Stewart's clean yet kinetic style melds the subject with his art, the ace of spades behind Lemmy and the Gabba Hey playing alongside Johnny are just another representation of a creative star. Ady Smith's excellently rendered space work is a hybrid of fact and fantasy, the sweet looking love-child of the Hubble Telescope and an Iain M. Banks cover. The elemental nature of space and art are combined into pure waves of heat and light, power and silence.
 
The elemental is also a theme in Richard Gee's section within Different Strokes. A blurred couple face a rolling, translucent sea, expertly proportioned and coloured black and white and emitting a sense of alienation from humanity, nature and love. Heavy stuff indeed. Harjinder Thandi strikes a different and more difficult balance between commercial and protest art. While a brooding orangotang labled 'monkey business' will always pull in a crowd, this co-exists with darker critical cityscapes and tableaus in an uncomfortable setting.
 
Finally, Michael Stewart, who uses a dizzying kaleidoscope of colours, themes and imagery, much of it erotic, to bring to life a series of seemingly unconnected adult fairytales, naked women inside giant peas, wild, towering landscapes and so on. Stewart gleefully releases primary colours onto the viewer, bringing
his large nipples (paintings of) dancing into the mind, where they remained for quite some time, let me tell you.
 
The eight different strokes are artists at bellfruit games, a company I believe makes fruit machines so let me term it in a way they will appreciate. The collection at the art cafe is like a line of a bell, a cherry and a seven. It's not a jackpot but it's interesting to look at.
 
The Art Organisation, Station Street, Nottingham, NG2.

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