The Garage Fordist


From the press release accompanying the exhibition

Neil Clements is concerned with the way in which authorship, or ideas of artistic agency have evolved in relation to broader technological developments. A specific focus is the way in which abstract art, commonly regarded as inwardly looking, can be demonstrated to be porous to other kinds of culture.

This exhibition at Tramway, features a new series of paintings titled Testbeds, which refer both to 1960s hard edge abstraction and heraldic military identifications. A repeated motif in these works is a cartoon skunk, a symbol whose origins lie  in the the Lockheed Martin Skunk Works logo. Initially referring exclusively to the military research division of this aeronautics giant, the term Skunkworks is now more widely applied to activities that are both secretive and develop advanced technology using limited means. Like the custom car finishing companies that now frequently employ the term, the adoption of the Skunk in these paintings draws a direct comparison between the production of one off, experimental prototypes and the visions of high performance and speed that accompany them.

Presented alongside these paintings is an ongoing series of sculptures that take museum barriers as their starting point. These works explore the relationship between artist and spectator, and suggest that an artwork might not transparently communicate meaning, but rather represent a more complex link between the two. One of these pieces, Institutional Support, adapts Tramways own museum stanchions to hold glass neon sections, turning these objects into a sign depicting their own function. The remaining two sculptures, both called Riser, are based on designs made for barriers by the painters Barnett Newman and Ad Reinhardt.   Being far from discrete forms originally, these have been re-made to appear even more aggressively theatrical, calling to mind other a range of other devices used in events management and stage design.

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