Bad studio pottery, rural and craft culture, obscure folk music, art-house porn – just some of the many marginal reference points informing The Devil’s Arse, an exhibition of ceramics and walls paintings by Aaron Angell.
Despite its imposing span, Aaron Angell’s recent practice shows certain thematic consistencies. Above all, his work demonstrates a willingness to break lockstep with the ‘contemporary’ – that which is now – in search of other possibilities. Accordingly, his visual imagination is founded on an ever-developing set of marginal concerns. At any one time Angell could be channelling ancient and medieval ritual, rural and craft culture (both originary and revivalist), 70s British TV, bad school pottery or art-house porn sets. Never taken whole, these references are continually unpacked and repurposed, bricolaged together to enigmatic ends.
This rich sense of reference and context is underpinned by a genuinely perverse attitude towards technical production. In his hands the elements of art (texture, form, line, shape, colour, etc.) are subject to endless recalibration. Angell is an artist who sides with the oddness of materials – their formlessness or capacity to induce aesthetic disjunction – forever swerving the obvious in favour of something – anything – Other.
Occupying tables in the centre of the gallery Angell has arranged a new suite of over-fired ceramics. These works unite two themes. One, a quasi-mystical take on the natural world in which fungi and botany take on a totemic presence in human imagination, the other a more traditional citation of the ceramic medium via serpentine braiding, coins, harlequin tessellations and disrupted vessel forms.
On the gallery walls, a number of torn paper wall ‘paintings’ have been executed. Though these fragmented circular shapes elude immediate classification, they are revealed to be a degraded tribute to a popular mode of high civic decoration, namely the flower clock (made by carpet bedding low growing flowers onto an operational clock face).
Aaron Angell (b. 1987) lives and works in London. He graduated from the Slade (BA) in 2011. He made his solo exhibition debut earlier this year with The Year of the Left Hand / Folkal Point, Focal Point Gallery, Southend (2011). Group shows include Young British Art, Limoncello, London (2011) and ‘Outrageous Fortune: Artists Remake the Tarot, Focal Point Gallery / Hayward Touring (2011).
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