SPIDER THE PIG, PIG THE SPIDER 2021 INKJET PRINT ON PAPER 80 X 70 CM
Alvaro Barrington’s print edition for SLG130 is divided into two versions, one of which features the words ‘Spider the Pig’, and the other ‘Pig the Spider’. Together they reveal the title of the artist’s 2021 exhibition at the SLG Spider the Pig, Pig the Spider. This play on mutation and inter-changeability is continued through the visual composition of the prints. Multiple images of the artist’s hand and forearm are overlaid with digitally rendered line drawings of spiders’ legs and pigs’ trotters in reference to the characters introduced in the title. These are superimposed onto a backdrop merging elements from the video game, Grand Theft Auto with Barrington’s photo of a nasturtium flower and leaf at a community garden near his studio. Two of the five distinctive arm gestures are based on George Orwell’s Animal Farm: one is a sign akin to the Hitler salute made by the main character– a pig called Napoleon, and another mimics the threateningly clench–fisted arms at the sides of all the pigs at the moment when they start to wear suits. A contrastingly gentle caress by Grandma Pig in the children’s cartoon Peppa Pig is the source of the third gesture, alongside another inspired by the strength and flexibility of the legs in the towering bronze sculptures of spiders by Louise Bourgeois. The remaining two hand signs are from Barrington’s own version of the African folktale of Anansi the Spider, into which he introduces the Black Power fist and the pointing finger of God from Michelangelo’s Creation of Adam on the Sistine Chapel ceiling.
Alvaro Barrington (b. 1983 Caracas, Venezuela) is the child of Grenadian and Haitian migrant workers and was raised between the Caribbean and New York. Barrington’s practice explores interconnected histories of cultural production. Considering himself primarily a painter, his multimedia approach to image–making employs burlap, textiles, postcards, clothing and cast concrete exploring how such diverse materials can function as visual tools while referencing personal, political and commercial histories. Through this confluence of materials and subject matter Barrington engages histories of music and painting associated with the Caribbean, the socio–political context of his childhood in 1980s New York, and London where he is currently based.
Recent exhibitions include MoMA PS1, New York (2017); A Taste of Chocolate at Thaddaeus Ropac, London (2018); an ongoing Tt×AB collaboration with the painter Teresa Farrell; co–curation with Julia Peyton–Jones of the exhibition Artists I Steal From at Thaddaeus Ropac, London (2019); Galerie Thaddeus Ropac, Paris (2021 and 2018); Corvi–Mora, London (2020); Sadie Coles HQ, London (2021 and 2019); Emalin, London (2019 and 2018).
SEASCAPE, 2021 6-CHANNEL SCREEN PRINT ON PAPER 80 X 70 CM
Seascape, 2021 is a variation on a series of ‘boat’ drawings that Rashid Johnson began to make while isolating with his family in Long Island during the tense early months of 2020. With limited resources to hand and finding that the activity of repetitive mark–making was a therapeutic antidote to the anxiety –inducing circumstances of the COVID–19 global pandemic, Johnson began a new project, drawing daily in a series of sketchbooks. Regular sketching had been a foundational element of Johnson’s early practice, which until then had lain largely dormant as he concerned himself with other media, especially installation and painting. In Johnson’s print, the overlapping curved pencil lines suggest boats or waves. The boat, which may be understood as a metaphorical vehicle of escape, is a reoccurring theme in Johnson’s work. These vessels seem to promise access to a future point in time, beyond the catastrophe of the present moment.
Find out more information about Rashid Johnson’s exhibition at SLG: Rashid Johnson: Shelter
PLANTING MOTION PLAN, 2021 INKJET PRINT ON COTTON RAG INKJET COATED PAPER 80 X 54 CM
The starting point for Orozco’s print is a photograph shot from a drone overflying the Orozco Garden at the South London Gallery that opened to the public in October 2016. The picture was taken in 2021, five years after the Garden was built and planted. Its flattened perspective shows the extent to which the Garden has matured over time with certain areas being overtaken by greenery, as was always the artist’s intention. To make the print Orozco overlaid a section of the aerial image with the corresponding blueprint, rendered in green ink and highlighting the detail of the concentric circle pattern of the York stone paving. This subtle intervention demonstrates how closely the Garden matches its technical design plan and could also be read as a play on the way in which certain plants, such as Mexican fleabane Erigeron karvinskianus and Mind–your own–business soleirolier soleirolii, have seeded themselves around the lines and patterns conceived by the artist.
I’S ABOVE ME, AS BELOW, 2021 LITHOGRAPHIC PRINT ON PAPER 80 X 70 CM
This distinctive print is inimitably the work of Christina Quarles. Developed from an idea taken from an earlier painting, the print focuses on an androgynous figure in a sky–filled landscape bisected by a folded plane in a floral pattern suggestive of a domestic floor or tablecloth. Quarles has said that in her work perspectival planes ‘…situate and fragment the bodies they bisect. […]. Fixed categories of identity can be used to marginalise but, paradoxically, can be used by the marginalised to gain visibility and political power. This paradox is the central focus of my practice’. Typically for Quarles, the identity of the figure in this print is deliberately ambiguous, opening up possibilities for multiple readings, from a winged, haloed angel, through to a baby, or a corpse buried in a foetal position, seeming to suggest both an ending and the start of something new, unfixed and auspicious. Quarles created this print by painting directly onto clear sheets of mylar in different colours. Each painted layer was then digitally tweaked, scanned and overlaid to create the final image.
Find out more information about Christina Quarles’s exhibition at SLG: Christina Quarles: In Likeness
THE SOURCE OF SPRING IS IN THE TRACE OF A MOVEMENT, 2021 SCREENPRINT ON PAPER WITH DEBOSSING 80 X 70 CM
The Source of Spring is in the Trace of a Movement is an adaptation of the inscription on the original marquetry floor of the South London Gallery’s main exhibition space, designed by the 19th–century artist and socialist activist, Walter Crane. The original inscription, “The source of Art is in the Life of a People” has been translated into Burmese and re–worked to relate to recent mass pro–democracy protests in Myanmar. This movement, known locally as the Spring Revolution, began in opposition to the military coup of February 2021. Basing the design for her print on a digital tracing of the original floor pattern, Yang has reconfigured Crane’s Art Nouveau motifs to allude to the three–finger salute used by Myanmar’s pro–democracy protesters. The imagery of Burmese medicinal plants, inserted between the original motifs, appears significant considering the current unrest and adds contemporary texture to the notion of “a people” evoked by Crane.
Find out more information about Haegue Yang’s exhibition at SLG: Haegue Yang: Tracing Movement