Nathan PendleburyLoop: Overview 07

Cornerstone Gallery, Hope at Everton
23rd February – 23rd March 2007

Reviewed by Hana Leaper

This exhibition has been curated to celebrate Liverpool's 800th birthday with an overview of abstract practitioners operating in around Liverpool. Apparently there is currently a 'new vibrant resurgence of visual arts'; a 'new Avant-Garde which is filled with dynamic colourful energy, whose diverse approaches make an inspiring landmark upon Liverpool's cultural renaissance’. The fact that the majority of artists exhibiting (including internationally renowned artists of the calibre of Terry Duffy, Julie Jones etc) have fashioned decades-spanning careers during this alleged cultural desert seems a little insulting to the artists, and to the viewers old enough to remember that an art scene existed before the hyperbole of the 'City of Culture' spin-fest. The reviewer would like to offer her congratulations to exhibitor Derek Culley, who was recently awarded the internationally prestigious Krasner Pollock Foundation Award ( - the aim of which is to recognise and aid artists who have worked over a significant period of time.

Abstract art is an umbrella term for pieces which have no representational nor symbolic qualities and yet are not simply pattern making. When many different pieces and artists are brought together under one banner, as with this Overview, the result is bright, exciting and imaginatively challenging. And yes, the twenty-nine different pieces on display, each by a different artist, reflects positively upon the existence (if not 'emergence’) of a healthy Liverpudlian abstract 'Avant-Garde'. The flaw in bringing together this wealth of visual stimulation is that the mind seeks patterns and meanings, amidst this cacophony it is difficult to silence this predilection in order to properly experience the sense impression of each piece. Similarly only seeing one piece does not do each artist justice and not enough information is given to allow interested viewers to investigate further.

One factor which makes this exhibition so vibrant and powerfully engaging are the contrasts between the artist's methods and aims: Colin Serjent points out in the catalogue that his photography is non-digital, his tools is a SLR Nikon 801, therefore the process of composure comes before the picture is taken. His piece 'Skin Deep' retains a sense of representational purity in its investigation of colours and curves, silhouettes and shadows. In comparison, Peter Collins' graphic composition was conceived on his computer and then rendered onto the canvas. This gives the piece a clinically modern feel, whilst his use of colour (in this case arresting shades of purple) and geometrical arrangement are mesmerisingly suggestive of motion.

An interesting recurrent theme is the erosion of the distinction between art and science, both in technique and envisioning: Peter Corbett's work seeks to express the underlying reality beneath the surface appearance of the objective world using cell-like forms inspired by research into the chaos theory and quantum physics. Curator Arthur Roberts ruminates upon the geometric complexities of nature – stars, rainbows, genes, snowflakes – with a line drawing that is an intriguing coalition of low-tech delicacy and mechanical boldness.

Such an overview makes it impossible to engage fully with any artist, though the levels and lightness of the venue, and the artful curatorial schema allow each its own space. This Overview would function wonderfully as an annual event; there is a jubilant, celebratory air to it, and our wealth of artistic talent deserves such an occasion. Be aware – the art on display hasn't simply sprung up to celebrate Liverpool's 800th birthday, and won't disappear after it.

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Comment left by Derek Culley on 23rd March, 2007 at 21:41
Thank you for the good wish's. My friend and mentor died one year ago this day: and he would have appreciated your article as I do. Please feel free to visit me/family:

Comment left by Nathan Pendlebury on 11th May, 2007 at 12:38
Thank you very much for a such a supportive review. And thank you for putting the image of my piece alongside your article, it is more than appreciated. I also wish the best to Derek and congratulations on his prestigious award. It was a pleasure to exhibit alongside him and everyone else involved. Thanks Arthur for supporting all things abstract, and for the opportunity. Nathan Pendlebury

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