In the tame beast's eye: a grotto
Brunhilde Bordeaux-Groult, Tom Hardwick-Allan, Paul DD Smith
Curated by Agnes Scherer
25 January – 29 February 2020
For the exhibition In the tame beast’s eye: a grotto at Zarinbal Khoshbakht the artists Brunhilde Bordeaux-Groult, Tom Hardwick-Allan and Paul DD Smith present works bound together in a symbiotic arrangement. Painted silk, glazed ceramic and carved wood emphasise the handmade and a shared sensibility that mobilises pre-modern motifs. In form and content, the artists address the perennial duality of ‚tame and wild‘. This binary concept of order and transgression is also what underlies a discourse that dates back to the middle ages, when the court and the wild woods were defined as antagonizing realms. Simultaneously, this discourse provided metaphors for the internal struggle between erotic and excessive desires and the impulse to discipline them.
Now, mutations of the old courtly etiquette seem to permeate through the seductive apparatus of surveillance capitalism, and like at all the courts of the past, being disciplined by others and disciplining oneself, the loss and gain of autonomy, are hard to differentiate. An internal wilderness, the grounds for the private self to stretch its gnarled appendixes, seems to be shrinking as rapidly as the wilderness outside. A pictorial repertoire from pre-modern times is proving of persisting relevance to grasp the effects of threats that are becoming ever more structural and visually unrepresentable.
Brunhilde Bordeaux-Groult, *1986 in Clamart, France, releases drawings from darkly stained wood and creates embroideries on different kinds of textiles, cultivating a unique pictorial language which oscillates between abstract and figurative qualities. With her work she challenges symbols of boundary-defined totality, such as circles and octagons, by invading them with vegetal and crystalline drawings, the transgressive energy of which seems to strive beyond them. Thus Brunhilde Bordeaux-Groult negotiates between models of order and the suggestion of fluid potentials which can perforate beyond seemingly fixed conditions. In 2019, she presented a series works in the duo-exhibition Grab, hold and let it go together with the artist Robert Elfgen at Susanne Neuerburg Galerie in Hennef.
Paul DD Smith, *1983 in Woodbridge, U.K., produces ceramics, silk paintings, prints and drawings in the tradition of the ornamental grotesque. His commitment to these mediums is aligned with the haptic approaches of the Arts and Crafts and Jugendstil movements, with a taste leaning towards the more overripe and psychedelic products of their aesthetic. In his work, patterns often veil and frame figures, both channelling the gaze and sending it off on detours. These complex entanglements present ambiguous pleasures of luxuriance and constriction. In 2019, Paul DD Smith participated in the group exhibitions Merry May at Galerie Genscher in Hamburg and Far Back Must Go Who Wants To Make A Big Jump at Chertlüdde in Berlin. Further, he collaborated with Agnes Scherer to produce The Vatel Set for the exhibition back there at Galerie Nord/Kunstverein Tiergarten in Berlin. It was their second collaboration after The Nile Set, a series of ceramics that was presented by realpositive at the COFA, Cologne, in 2016. Smith also participated in the exhibition My Body doesn’t like Summer, curated by Stephen Kent at Philipp Haverkampf Galerie, Berlin, in 2018.
Tom Hardwick-Allan, *1996 in Derbyshire, U.K., lives and works in London. Hardwick-Allan scratches away at an array of surfaces in an attempt to dislodge a framework through which something from an other side might arise. His carved reliefs emerge through planned motifs mixed with searching excavations and erasures of imagery. The artist treats image making as a digestive process in which the shapes of ideas are broken down to activate the latent chemical potential that they contain. Hardwick-Allan’s work evidences a straining towards something which is beyond present articulation. This friction gives way to fictions which are fed back into the machination. Hardwick-Allan is currently presenting three unprinted woodcuts and 127 woodcut bookblocks on show at the Ca’ Pesaro in Venice as part of the show Breathless, which runs until March 2020. Other selected group exhibitions, screenings, performances and publications of the last years include: D&P, Spring Bank Arts, New Mills; catching the first mute sliced in the morning for Uncanny Valley, Difficult Kin, Mer, Aspex, Portsmouth; Shorts, Set, London; cartoon flora of the avian gut, Tenderbooks, London; The Weird and the Eerie, Safehouse, London; Fan Art, Pups, London; MANY, Limbo, London, as well as MORE, Limbo, London.
Agnes Scherer, *1985 in Lohr am Main, Germany, is an artist and art historian based in Berlin. One of the focuses of her work and is the ongoing reverberance of feudal culture and social patterns, especially authoritarian strategies in the present day. Her exhibition The Very Hungry, created in 2019 at the project space Horse & Pony in Berlin, dealt with corrupted fantasies of equality, based on the example of Marie Antoinette’s ornamental farm in the park of Versailles. The curatorial project resulting in the group exhibition In the tame beast’s eye: a grotto builds up on an analysis of the courtly (and, for the court, identity-establishing) discourse around the binarity of ‚tame and wild‘ which Scherer first developed in her essay: ‚The pre-cosmic squiggle‘, in: Dawn Keetley, Angela Tenga (eds.), Plant Horror, London: Palgrave Macmillian, 2016.