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Nottingham Carnival online

Exhibition Review: Dot Dot Dash

27 July 20 words: Ewan Cameron

Ewan Cameron checked out Dot Dot Dash, Surface Gallery's eclectic online exhibition which is still available to view...

INNERBLOOM by Moki

I was trying to think of the perfect metaphor for the Surface Gallery’s Dot Dot Dash exhibition, which can be found exclusively online here. In some respects it is a visual buffet, a smorgasbord of eclectic artwork from dozens of artists from all over the world who have contributed some of their best works for you to sample. But this is not just an exhibition that allows us to view, but encourages us to explore and, in that sense, it is like a many-windowed wall, with each window inviting us to step through to somewhere different. Of course, almost every artist has an Instagram these days, but, and perhaps this is a nostalgia for the older days of the internet, before mass platforms began to filter everything, it was refreshing to use the exhibition as a jumping off point for wandering through the individual websites of the artists.

Dot Dot Dash (which is morse code for the letter U, but I don’t know if that’s relevant) plays host to so many different artists that it’s inevitable that you will find at least one you like (and maybe even one that you don’t like too). I couldn’t honestly say that I would put every single piece here on my wall, but there was much to love.

Perhaps my favourite piece is by Karen Cooper. At first I was not sure if I was looking at a stack of books or a city skyline, but then I saw the title, Bibliopolis and realised it was both. This is a work of great technical ability as, through reflection alone, Cooper depicts a sunrise in all its majesty. The  work is somehow both precise and hazy in its overall effect and has a charming sense of nostalgia. I also loved Sunandita Bandhu’s Faded Memoir and Floating Memories and Let Go, a thematic collection of memory with recurring images of honeycombs and birds that frame a portrait of a pensive woman caught in a fairytale.

Page 12 by Zara Tisma

Bihari artist Anamika’s Healing Time 3 appears at first glance to be a mere abstraction of colours and shapes scrunched into a ball, but then the organic inspiration becomes more apparent, rewarding the viewer with a glimpse into the very birth of creation. Zara Tisma’s Page 12 has a similar effect, but in this case we end up seeing an entire landscape, from many vantage points, compressed into a page.  Sarah Morgan’s drawings W is for Westwood and P is for Poiret utilise bold lines to create cartoonish but supremely elegant figures in pencil. German Artist Moki’s Innerbloom takes an abstract painting and places it within a larger context: a man his face blurred in motion clutches it amidst a black and white countryside backdrop. I have to admit, I’m not much of a fan of abstract paintings, but the presentation of this one helped to bring out the tacit message of a questioned masculinity.

Elsewhere, Bulgarian Artist Sasho Violetov depicts an amusing yet dark take on screen addiction, while British-Chinese artist Bettina Fung’s interpretation of life in lockdown as it manifests on her body and mind walks the line between comic and horror.

Ghanaian Robert Commey’s You and I depicts two men standing in front of a colourful fabric pattern while branches and flowers grow amidst them. There is a vibrancy to this picture much more than the sum of its parts. Sonjave Maurya’s Rain on My Banana Leaf Umbrella is colourful too, but manages to make a monsoon downpour feel both solemn and light.

You and I by Robert Commey

It is not just paintings either, Macedonian Filip Cakoski’s Solitude is a surreal and yet instantly relatable sculpture of a figure crouched in pain, their head a solid block of metal. Clarke Reynolds, a visually impaired artist, brings together the instrumental and the aesthetic in his work that explores the tactile beauty of Braille. 

I was intrigued by Huw Andrews, a gif artist. But unfortunately all that could be seen was a still from an art gif he had created with a promise that the full gif in motion was available on his Instagram. After scrolling through his site, I finally found the gif but then was told to register an account in order to view it. This was a let down and the gallery should have either hosted the full gif on their website or simply not selected it. Another technical criticism was that while the order of art was randomised on each visit which helped to bring new artists to the top of the screen, this also made it difficult to ensure you had seen everything, particularly if you were making multiple visits. Perhaps in future, randomization could be an option.

Minor technical issues, aside, this is an astounding exhibition and it’s a real credit to the surface gallery that they can curate such shows with such a wide array of artists from across the world. Let your eyes feast.

surfacegallery.org/dotdot-dash-gallery

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