previous
Exhibition
second gallery

Additional Information

Group Show
#BFF: The Politics of Friendship
2 November - 3 December 2016

A group exhibition featuring work by Tully Arnot, Terrence Combos, Josh Harle, Claudia Nicholson, Jason Phu and Louise Zhang.

 

Art history has made much of the friendships that existed between famous artists. Vincent Van Gogh and Paul Gauguin. Camille Pissarro and Paul Cézanne. Francis Bacon and Lucian Freud. Jean-Michel Basquiat and Andy Warhol. Gilbert & George. The list goes on…

Why are we so fascinated by the friendships that existed between these artists? Because of the clues and insights into the artist’s life and mind which they provide… Through their letters and recorded conversations we witness artists at their most raw and vulnerable, we see the casual conversations which ultimately lead to the birth and germination of new ideas and we gain an honest and unvarnished insight into the person behind the artwork.

However the idea of ‘friendship’ is in itself a philosophical construct difficult to define and open to many varied interpretations…

Writing about artists linked by friendship and a shared spirit of competitiveness, art critic Sebastian Smee explains “Rivals in the modern era (such as Picasso and Matisse) were competing not just to be the most advanced artistically, the most audacious, the most important…

The art of rivalry is the struggle of intimacy itself: the restless, twitching battle to get closer to someone, which must somehow be balanced with the battle to remain unique.”

For political theorist Hannah Arendt, friendship had political relevance and importance. The essence of friendship, she believed, consisted in discourse, and it is only through discourse, she argued, that the world is rendered humane. According to Niezsche, a true friend is not someone who accepts your every word and blindly follows in your steps or even someone who tries to ‘offer you a helping hand’. A true friend is someone who is not afraid to be in opposition, to propose contra-arguments, to go one’s own way and even destroy and fight against a friend’s plans. In the Nietzschean sense then, a friend is someone who is not afraid to engage in antagonisitic or oppositional dialogue and debate. Whilst for Derrida the idea of friendship was a concept that could never fully be realised, an idealised relationship fraught with contradictions and complications and based on impossibility.

Whichever definition one might choose to subscribe to, it can be argued that through friendship we come to better understand ourselves in relation to an

‘other’, thereby allowing us to develop and encounter a better understanding on our individual self – or in the case of contemporary artists – their own individual artistic practice.

The role of friendship is therefore essential to the production, dissemination and appreciation of contemporary art. As art critic Rebecca O’Dwyer has written, “in recent years the figure of the ‘friend’ has come to play a role of absolutely crucial significance within Contemporary art… From the incubation stage to the finished work of art a move towards an exchange akin to that of friends can be witnessed. This results in a form of art production that is increasingly dialogical or pedagogical, from its conception in artist-run spaces to the relational practices so evident all around us.”

As we see in the work of Tully Arnot, Terrence Combos, Josh Harle, Claudia Nicholson, Jason Phu and Louise Zhang – the friendship and relationships formed between artists and peer groups become the catalyst for dialogue and debate, for collaboration and competition, for inspiration and innovation…

Rhianna Walcott
Curator

Additional Information

Upcoming Exhibition

main gallery
Group Show
1 November - 25 November 2017

Previous Exhibition

main gallery
Group Show
7 September - 10 September 2017
Louise Zhang, We’re all gonna burn in hell for a little bit, 2016, acrylic, oil and plastic on plywood and mdf, 100 x 112cm Terrence Combos, keyboard mash (caps lock on) 5, 2014, Paint marker on board, 60 x 30cm Terrence Combos, keyboard mash (caps lock on) 1-4, 2014, Paint marker on board, 75 x 45cm Terrence Combos, keyboard mash (caps lock on) 6, 2014, Paint, marker on board 30 x 60cm Josh Harle, Making Sense: Firstdraft Gallery, 2016, print and custom frame, 30 x 45cm Jason Phu, A severed bulls head & a chrysanthemum share no semblance, 2016, ceiling paint on black polythene film, 230 x 202cm Claudia Nicholson, I Luh U Papi, 2016, white earthenware, underglaze, ceramic glaze, gold lustre and pearl lustre, 30 x 17 x 17cm Claudia Nicholson, Come 4 me, 2016, white earthenware, underglaze, ceramic glaze, gold lustre and pearl lustre, 20 x 8 x 8cm Tully Arnot, Surface Maquette 1, 2016, digital photograph, air dry clay, 22 x 10 x 7 cm Tully Arnot, Surface Maquette 2, 2016, digital photograph, air dry clay, 13.8 x 20.5 x 11 cm Tully Arnot, Surface Maquette 3, 2016, digital photograph, air dry clay, 11.2 x 9.5 x 7.2 cm Tully Arnot, Surface Maquette 4, 2016, digital photograph, air dry clay, 10.3 x 11.8 x 10.5 cm Tully Arnot, Surface Maquette 5, 2016, digital photograph, air dry clay, 10.5 x 12 x 9.8 cm Installation View, #BFF The Politics of Friendship, 2016 Installation View, #BFF The Politics of Friendship, 2016 Installation View, #BFF The Politics of Friendship, 2016 Installation View, #BFF The Politics of Friendship, 2016 Installation View, #BFF The Politics of Friendship, 2016 Installation View, #BFF The Politics of Friendship, 2016 Installation View, #BFF The Politics of Friendship, 2016 Installation View, #BFF The Politics of Friendship, 2016 Installation View, #BFF The Politics of Friendship, 2016 Installation View, #BFF The Politics of Friendship, 2016