Cut-Outs, Offcuts and Holes
April 30 – June 6, 2015
David Nolan Gallery is pleased to present Cut-Outs, Offcuts and Holes, an exhibition of recent paintings and drawings by British artist, Neil Gall. For his third solo exhibition at the gallery, we will present eleven paintings and four large works on paper.
Gall’s works typically engage a range of cultural and art historical references, all of which operate within his own unique and precisely determined visual language. In recent years, the artist has developed a highly skillful and virtuosic approach to painting and drawing, which involves a precise rendering of loosely constructed maquettes, assembled using colored tape, translucent cellophane, Ping-pong balls and other materials that he finds in his studio. Gall uses the motif of the Ping-pong ball to suggest a variety of associations: in some cases they are treated like eyes, brazenly staring back at the viewer – in others, they become subtle references to Magritte, whose paintings employed similar spherical forms hovering ambiguously in space. In their coloring, Gall’s new paintings collectively reference the histories of Monochrome painting, most notably Barnett Newman’s seminal series “Who's Afraid of Red, Yellow and Blue”.
Gall selects particular titles for his paintings as a way to reframe the viewer’s interpretation of given works. Frequently in his titles, the artist makes allusions to art historical sources, among them Velázquez, Bronzino, Magritte, and his abiding influence, Poussin. In so doing, Gall playfully resituates the works within a longer narrative of Western culture. One work Allegory (Bronzino), 2015, thus becomes a conceptual re-working of Bronzino’s Allegory with Venus and Cupid, 1545 in the National Gallery in London. In Gall’s painting, Bronzino’s vibrant blue coloring finds new application, while a constellation of Ping-pong balls form a substitute for Venus and Cupid’s fleshy forms.
In Kitchen (Velázquez), 2015, Gall pays homage to Velázquez’s An Old Woman Cooking Eggs, 1618 (a painting in the National Galleries of Scotland). Like the Old Master, Gall delights in the life-like depiction of everyday objects, the contrast between different materials, and the play of light and shadow on opaque and reflective surfaces. While the title triggers an initial association, the artist is interested in the way that multiple references can exist in tandem. The softly delineated bands of muted color recall the work of the American abstract painter, Agnes Martin, and elsewhere the artist has also compared these forms to the “achrome” paintings of Piero Manzoni. In this approach, Gall conveys a willfully varied engagement with art historical sources, layering and compacting these as he chooses. Occasionally more obscure cultural histories are summoned, as in his painting, I’m So Green, 2015 which takes its title from a song by the German “Krautrock” band, Can. Cutting and pasting from an array of sources, the works in this exhibition exist within the diverse realms of representational painting, abstraction and the materiality of post-minimalist sculpture.
Neil Gall was born in Aberdeen, Scotland, and currently lives and works in London. He received his BA in Painting at Gray’s School of Art and then attended Slade School of Art in London in 1991. His art has garnered him numerous awards in Great Britain, and his work is featured in prominent international collections including the Denver Art Museum, The Morgan Library, New York and the Zabludowicz Collection, London.
In Neil Gall’s newest paintings, which are currently being exhibited at David Nolan (April 30 – June 13, 2015), there is a powerfully coercive interplay between figure and background that veers between the unstable and the terrifying. Uneven, jagged holes, cut out of tape-wrapped canvases, become resting places for large, perfectly white, almost moon-like spheres (as in the all-white “Kitchen (Velasquez),” 2015). Sometimes the orbs are not perfectly round but punched or crunched. It is only on second glance that these prove to be not sculptures but paintings, examples of dazzlingly skillful photorealism.
“Neil Gall’s newest works clearly demonstrate his varied interests, which include representational painting, post-minimalist sculpture, and the tension between abstraction and materiality,” says David Nolan, whose gallery presents “Cut-outs, Offcuts, and Holes,” an exhibition of paintings and drawings by the scottish-born artist opening April 30. Among the 14 works are several depicting loose constructions of Ping-Pong balls and other objects bound together with colored PVC tape; these include 2014’s Yellow (Poussin), far left, and Allegory (Bronzino), left, a “conceptual reworking” of Bronzino’s Allegory with Venus and Cupid, 1545, in London’s National Gallery.