We speak to the curator and participating artist Russell Maurice about Comic Abstraction - an emerging art genre dealing with political issues
Galleries Goldstein at Goodhood newly opened inaugural show, Asbestos Curtain, is a collection of works in the emerging genre of Comic Abstraction. The exhibition includes a mix of established and upcoming artists whose comic images, inspired by animation, comic strips and caricatures, question political and social modern day concerns.
Whilst further fuelling the high-brow/low-brow art debate, Asbestos Curtain seeks to push Comic Abstraction into a new phase and raises the question, can humour in art become a powerful tool offering political and social critique and commentary? We spoke to featured artist and curator of the exhibition, Russell Maurice, to pick his brains about the debate around his latest project and to find out what he plans to do next.
Dazed Digital: How did you first become involved in the Galleries Goldstein at Goodhood (GaG) collaborative project?
Russell Maurice: I've worked with Jo & Kyle (Goodhood) since they opened, they bought my clothing collection Gasius for the store from day one, we became good friends and they have always been super supportive. I did a solo show at the store called 'Thursday Solstice' in 2008. Things have gone well at Goodhood, they expanded the store and so needed more space for their studios.With their new four floor space (the Goodhood Workshops, across the road from the store) came more space.
When I saw the street level studio, I initially asked if we could to do just one show for a project myself and Daniel Sparkes' had done, but as we talked more, I suggested a programme of shows and when I told them of my plans to open an online gallery...GaG was born, it was a pretty organic thing.
DD: What kind of works can we expect from the Asbestos Curtain exhibition?
Russell Maurice: A really varied range of mediums, painted photographs by Daniel Sparkes, classic oil painting by Andro Semeiko. Mark Mulroney's clean collage element paintings, Horfe's chaotic tangles of objects, Pencil Sketches by Edwin Burdis, Gustonesque Oils by Willem Weisman, ink drawings by Ken Sortais and sculpture by myself.
DD: James Boaden's commentary on the exhibition states:"In the late 1970s the American Surrealist Franklin Rosemont suggested that comics provided a ‘hieroglyphic poetry’ for the day", can you identify with that statement? Is that something you see in your own work?
Russell Maurice: Yes for sure. This show approaches the cartoon with a modern eye and questions if it is time to review attitudes towards the art form. In the words of Augustus Parker: "Discussing the cartoon as Low Brow is no longer relevant. Now it is used as a simplification, a short hand description, a language society needs now". It's about the characterisation of animate and inanimate objects (which in my work especially links with concepts of consciousness), stripping things back and then using these new forms as the language.
DD: Much of your previous work references the relationship between modern society and nature and metaphysical aspects of life and spirituality. Are they themes you have actively tried to bring out in your work?
Russell Maurice: Yes to a point, my earlier works were rooted in romanticism, exploring the themes of energy, growth patterns, shape, diversity and cycles in the natural world. The central focus of these works was the relationship between modern society and nature. My work is now concerned with the more metaphysical aspects of these themes, particularly the spirit world, concepts of ghosting and theories on the after life.
Analyzing what form a spirit could take, and what forms are generally accepted to represent them in culture, objectifying the non solid. Then theres solidity, energy, chaos, string theory...alchemy has been a massive subject for me. This encompasses so much of the metaphysical and the spirit.
DD: You've come from the UK Graffiti scene and launched clothing line, Gasius, as well as working for Labels like Maharishi, what's next for you? What up and coming projects are you working on?
Russell Maurice: I always take on too much, so its a juggle of projects, aside from organising the next show (of sculpture) at Goldstein's, which is entitled 'I pity inanimate objects' after the Godley & Creme track, I'm making a zine with Petro (out in a week or two). A show in Tokyo late September with Swedish artist PMKFA and then one in Helsinki straight after with Egs & Pinky.
DD: Who or what are you currently being inspired by?
Russell Maurice: Literally all of the artists included in this show. I'm lucky enough to share my studio with Dan who's one of my favourite artists ever. Jed Quinns recent show at Stephen Friedman made me want to give up it was so good. Nigel Cooke, Armen Eloyan and Uwe Henneken. Music is exciting at the moment, loving Thee Oh Sees ( The Singles LP), Pure X, Grimes'Washed Out remix, Discodeine, Holy Other, Factory Floor and Subway II ... its infinite. Gregory Bags are so dope, and I really rate Kapitol from Japan. Gaspar Noe's Enter the Void was incredible, the finish was so new and exciting, even the opening credits...and Blaise's Dodge.
28 July- 26 August, Galleries Goldstein at Goodhood (GaG), 20 Coronet Street, London, N1 6HD. Asbestos Curtain book now available. For further information: www.galleriesgoldstein.com