12 November 2009

Making a mountain out of a montage

I've been invited to this evening's preview of the Cornerhouse's new run in the galleries, entirely dedicated to the Polish artist Artur Zmijewski as part of Polska! Year. Unfortunately, I have to admit that I couldn't muster up the enthusiasm, even despite having recently travelled through Poland. I'm just not that into video art, I'm afraid. Plus I'm very very busy.

To make up for it, I've been having a shufty at the work on show elsewhere in the Cornerhouse: Behemoth And Other New Paintings by David Wightman. I'm giving you my thoughts here under the guise of both words (read on and you'll see why) and fixtures (both the date of the show and the fact that paintings are fixtures. Get it?). I'm not so fond of the abstract geometric stuff in the far end of the cafe, but I am curiously drawn to the mountain landscapes scattered about the place.

The largest, Behemoth, takes its title from a mythical beast, which apparently features in the Bible (more precisely, I'm told, the Book of Job). But then, what would I know? Behemoth, to me, means some massive big thing. And this painting is indeed that, taking up pretty much the entire wall that divides the seating in the bar (still a work in progress itself) from the downstairs loos. In the context of this painting, says the blurb in the exhibition press release, the word 'behemoth' is used to 'evoke the sense of terror and isolation inherent within mountain landscapes in opposition to their usual association with sublime beauty. This sense of terrific awe in scale and subject matter is curtailed by the use of pastel colours and collaged wallpaper providing a darkly humorous contrast'. [Head on side.] Oh yeah. It is the shade of strawberry Angel Delight, which is darkly humorous, I guess, in its own way.

Puella Mea is hanging above the stairs, so, as you make your way back down from the first floor, stop annoyingly mid-flight and appreciate the bumps and humps in the glaciers created by a choice use of textured wallpaper. It's worth the tuts and sighs, I assure you.

The one I traipsed all the way over there to see, however, is Cathedra. Trouble is, I couldn't actually find it on display, despite being reassured by staff that it is up, so I'll have to make do with the reproduction in the brochure (and below). In all the gubbins airy-fairying on about Wightman's work, there's talk of landscapes being something of a kitsch genre these days, and what with the woodchip and gaudy colours, you can't get much kitscher than this. A cathedra, it turns out when I Google it (the word isn't listed in the rubbish My First Dictionary I have for some reason decided to furnish my temporary work desk with), is the chair or throne of a bishop ('cathedra' is Latin for 'chair', from the Greek 'kathedra' meaning 'seat'); and a cathedral is a church into which a bishop's official cathedra is installed. See, you learn things here. And, indeed, study the picture closely and you can see the mountains do resemble a throne (look, just squint, will ya?).

Cathedra, 2009, acrylic on wallpaper and canvas, 90 x 120cms

Behemoth And Other New Paintings is on at the Cornerhouse until
16 December.

ADDENDUM (29/03/10):
David has a new website with photos from the Cornerhouse show and new work: davidwightman.net


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Received a nice email from David himself; thought I'd share it with you lot:

    I've recently come across your blog, and more specifically, the post about my recent show at the Cornerhouse. Thanks for the write-up. 'Cathedra' wasn't in the show as it had sold beforehand. Anyway, I just wanted to say Hi and Thank You. I like your prose. You may be interested in my new website - with photos from the Cornerhouse show and new work: davidwightman.net Perhaps you could change the link on your post?
    Best, David

    Consider it done!


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