I have been lucky enough to attend two very interesting art exhibitions this month. Both were put on by friends of mine and both were very different in content and atmosphere.
The first was the opening of the Bury Collective arts event; a group of artists poets and musicians from and around Bury put together after my friend Diane and her colleage Lee had the idea to put a showcase of local talent together. Held at The Met, the opening night was packed (over 300 people attended!) and full of your intersting art types. I swapped business cards with aspiring writers and singers in bowler hats. There were impromptu art perfomances and fabulous entertaiment by Dr Butler's Hatstand Medicine Band.
Plus the variety and quality of work displayed on the walls of The Met's bar and lounge area was really impressive. The exhibition runs for the next four weeks and is free to all Met patrons. I look forward to seeing what the Bury Collective do next!
My second visit was to a new exhibition by Darren Nixon held at Rogue Studios in Manchester. I've watched Darren's painting style change dramatically over the years (I'm sure he's seen the same with me) and this collection of new paintings was really strong and thought provoking. It's one of those shows that takes you out of everyday normality for a few minutes then kicks you out again with a feeling of wonder and a head full of questions.
By Darren Nixon
The exhibition's title is Obstruction and reflects our views on life and how we understand it. With this work Darren has tried to take himself out of the equation and leave the viewer to make up their own minds. I wanted to say 'Oh I love this one' or 'that one is lovely' but to be honest the work was all slightly unsettling and gave off a feeling of isolation and chaos. Which is exactly why the collection of paintings was so good and did what all good art should, it made me want to look at it.
Painted directly onto abstract backgrounds and alien landscapes, figures have been added and left there to fend for themselves. Each set of people was found in a newspaper and then taken out of context with all clues as to their meaning taken away; A set of cross country skiers now hobbles splaylegged and ski-less through a thick white ground looking like an attack of zombies;
Whilst a group of men standing around a cave entrance could be rescuers or something much more sinister as they peer directly at the viewer, cutting our escape route as we edge closer to the rock wall.
With all links and context taken away I was left to try and figure this out myself.
I like seeing art that challenges me and Obstruction did just that. I didn't know if I was witnessing the innermost thoughts of Darren's mind or simply projecting my own discomfort and confusion onto the canvases. I also like art with a story and with this work there are countless stories being hinted at but no satifying conclusion. If not careful you could be stuck in them forever just like the nameless characters trying to find their way out.
To find out more about Darren's work contact: firstname.lastname@example.org