Tracey Rees-Cooke explores the many riches of MOSTYN gallery‘s Agored/Open 21 in Llandudno.
Since its inception in 1989, the MOSTYN Open has nutured and presented the talent of established and emergent comtemporary artists internationally. It is now twenty one years since MOSTYN opened its space to a blind selection open exhibition, Agored/Open 21, which is now more international and varied than ever. Featuring textiles, photography, painting, sculpture, installation, film and video this years selection of art expands and provokes in many directions.
The first word that comes to my mind is : heavy.
Figurative art and colour dominate an outstanding exhibition from the diminutive scarlet barbie shoes of ‘Cut The Trick’, a striking assemblage by J.L. Bogaert, to the fairly massive lemon, lilac and mandarin orange friendly bogeyman figures who oversee the other exhibits with some aplomb in the form of Neil McNally’s ‘The Three Mothers’.
But let’s focus on the magical. And there’s plenty of that: McNally’s pink and blue ‘Pegasus and Child’ (2019), again commands the attention, as does New Yorker Nancy Jones’ encapsulating ‘Logo Moods’ watercolours which are exquisite, delightful and ethereal. These illuminated figures have an otherworldly feel that exudes imagined narrative if not mystical mystery tale a la Nancy Drew comics from the eighties.
In contrast, Wrexham-based stuckist John Bourne employs a flat texture and sombre Gauguin/ Cezanne-like palette which proves exquisitely arresting in its here and now.
‘The Philosophy of the Voyage’ (2019) is quietly prepossessing in its overcrowded depiction of an afternoon out on Llangollen canal and his representation of the Tesco cafe in Wrexham is a gorgeous study in composition and artistic integrity.
The Agored/Open 21 exhibition features a total of thirty four international artists both new and established, seven of which have welsh connections. David Garner, a native of Ebbw Vale now based in New York has an Ivor Davies award for ‘the spirit of activism, the struggle for language, culture and politics in Wales’ and this is resonated in both his pieces on display at MOSTYN.
The human aspect of Garner’s work is apparent in the handicraft of his tapestry and the strikingly poetic soap dish installation inspired by his Dad’s last scrub up at the Pits of South Wales; both these pieces play politics with a twist and are poignant in their narrative voice. Garner’s ‘Cleanse’ (1977-1981) is particularly striking in its stark simplicity. It is, in short, beautiful.
Main £10,000 prize winner Sarah Entwistle’s work also draws on her family line. Both of her pieces here are part of an ongoing deconstruction of her late grandfather and fellow architect’s archive, in soft subtle colours these handwoven tapestries have the markings of a painter and act as a backdrop for odd, sculptural pieces including a lifelike sleeping white cat.
Where to next? Spanish artist Eugene Culler’s ‘The Little Lion’ mesmerizes, as does ‘Fete’ (2018). Her 1940s film noir, expressionist style conjures up flavours of soft, smudged, sinister happenings flung out of time.
Artist Jessica Quinn’s passionate surrealistic paintings are saturated with bright colours and seem to explore relationships of friends, matriarchy and again a magic which I associate with the work of Leonara Carrington and the surrealism of psychic freedom, as well as, again, political activism. These are vibrant paintings of women and girls more likely to frown than grin because despite the joyful brightness of the paintings there is a suggestion of reality – an outside threat and an open narrative of strong women.
I urge you to look up towards the ceiling at MOSTYN for a lovely creation in foam, feathers and paint in the form of Ariel Reichman’s ‘And all she wanted was to bring him home’ (2019).
Oh and check out the hi-fi spaceman; two stunning masterpieces by William Roberts.
My words have only scratched the surface of the variety art at MOSTYN this summer into Autumn, you can also participate by voting for the £1,000 Audience Award by October 20th 2019.
Go see … get that ball rolling for yourself.
Tracey Rees-Cooke has written several contributions for Wales Arts Review.