Nick Malone | The Disappearance of Makepeace | Bermondsey Project Space

Page 1


183-185 Bermondsey Street London SE1 3UW

Nick Malone The Disappearance of Makepeace A Tale of Two Lives 6 - 10 NOVEMBER 2018

Essay Nick Malone by Sacha Craddock

About the Exhibition The show is underpinned by a mystery thriller, a graphic novel tracing the relationship of Eustace and Makepeace, from their first childhood meeting to their final encounter; it is a story of disappearance, mystery and murder, and is an adventure on how to become an artist. It is based on events in Nick Malone’s own life. You can listen to podcasts of this novel at: The exhibition itself crosses art forms, exploring issues of metamorphosis, dissolution and change through different media, while engaging the viewer on several levels. Installed works, some of which occupy a third space between painting or drawing and sculpture, deal with an inner mythology through dissolving planes, and can be viewed solely in terms of their visual dynamics; other canvasses operate through near-abstraction. The works can also be seen to interact with the text of the graphic novel that sets them within a wider context of narrative, adventure and dream. The graphic novel operates by using windows cut into the pages that open ‘trap doors’ into different co-existing text and imagery, and there are equivalent partitions installed in the gallery space that operate in the same way, with cut windows opening into different worlds. The exhibition combines installation, images, animation and soundscape to enable words and visual dynamics to interact and operate in new ways.

Nick Malone essay by Sacha Craddock

Malone works in a large number of media at an accomplished and sophisticated level each time. He aims to control perception in order to expand it. Something happened, in fact, many things happened, and he is keen to tell. But how can an artist best convey whatever that is, and in what form it should arrive? What role does understanding of a professed situation play? And what comes first? Wary of an easy morphing between forms, he is respectful of the difference between media and genre. In a way Malone adheres to some sort of hierarchy, knowing that a picture can say all at once, while a novel takes time, he is more than aware that animation can unfurl a story while a controlled procession through an exhibition space can progress the narrative better than when all is seen at once. But the need to force, drive and tell, arrives out of an artist, writer, and animator, sent to be handling a hot potato forever. Childhood and fiction merge in a realistic and apparently truthful manner. ... understanding and incomprehension are able to exist in the same conceptual and actual place.

The famous painting Man Killed by a Snake, 1648, by Nicolas Poussin in the National Gallery conveys a flow through space, in which a number of states of comprehension are able to exist on the same plane and in the same place. A man is attacked by a snake, someone along the way calls for help, people further on fish in ignorance of what has happened while the background represents a pastoral state. Space recedes; sound and knowledge disappear across the same plane into illusory space. This happens often, understanding and incomprehension are able to exist in the same conceptual and actual place, and still carry all before and within it. But what happens with such an apparently simple, even naĂŻve, need to speak, show and tell. How does time really foreshorten, can it also expand to include moments that extend experience? In what order are elements initially seen? Perhaps this is simple, because as we have already said, a novel carries narrative with some sort of time within it, while dance and performance have a middle, beginning and end, and yet still the residue of context can remain constant. The frustration an artist may have each time with a struggle

between the metaphoric and the illusion of direct account is palpable. Of course, there are tactics and deceits, the stronger the adherence to the narrative and details of context the further away actuality may lie. Malone, who does not use much colour in his work, is frugal in the way, he equates outline with truth and so writing and drawing can become almost one. His adherence to the principles of a formal relation to the Romantic in literature, is the same with fine art but to a different extent.

... his artistic work reflects a particularly conscious approach to the relation between image and text.

The boy encountered in a room next door, also exists in the story on the podcasts so strikingly similar in appearance to the narrator, is also for the narrator the perpetual excuse, a milestone of experience. This is, in fact a tale of two minds. At long last there is someone to play with, with whom to share. Malone is concerned that he did not start painting till later in life. As a successful writer of poetry and prose, however, his artistic work reflects a particularly conscious approach to the relation between image and text. You imagine he is forever watching what something might look like in terms of what it might be saying as a result. Malone runs a great pace, alongside his painting and drawing, in the expectation that the relationship will extend and develop. Bringing in the use of animation, as well as each time catching a three-dimensional tangle of pulled and manipulated material, set back into relief. Malone, who knows that great work is not ever just about ‘getting it’, uses narrative as sort of a parallel excuse. His production of a series of podcasts is fascinating, in that it reveals an artist not able to trust any one medium to show a direct way through. The relief, however, has general sensations rendered out of paper and wrangled white material which enforces a strong sense of the organic. A black creature; a fly, moth, or octopus extends across the deep plane. Malone brings this together with the suggestion of a breathing amalgam, a set of things. The recollection, perhaps, merges easily with the symbolic. A mass of fluttering bats, teeth or wings, built up with layers of words drawn across a splattered painted surface, is held together by skeleton and feather. The memory remains of the birds on the balcony and is re-interpreted here, the logic is missing, somehow, as the sensation of being trapped, not seeing particularly clearly, over and above the apparent ease of subject and remains. Relief, a wonderful means of expression, allows a real sort of place nonetheless. The reference to depth alludes to the actual and does the job. Malone’s drawing extends across levels of depth; dark eyes, almost caricatures, are enmeshed and trapped, in the skin of the structure. Malone is still within the experience and outside telling us how it is. He talks of the thing happening ‘Up North’, somewhere, elsewhere. The surrounding atmosphere, written and spoken, appears a touch Gothic, with the paper cut to trace the cartoon elements of a jaw, for instance, with discarded and decayed fish bone.

There is a Victorian villa, from the story, ‘the trees reached out to each other’ but Malone still seems to use all he can to control the order in which things arrive. Strikingly similar in appearance, both of the boys play, while leaves, overgrown shrubbery and clipped lawns, convey a sense of nature cured yet wild at the same time. Malone writes messages and notes to self and folds them somehow, in the manner of Cy Twombly, between the surface of everyday life and artistic production. He writes, blogs, illustrates and paints. Working between real and imaginary, true incident and incidental, he needs to tell. Used to adopting that same core story about a shipowner next door, the tousle haired boy, and owls that would look in from the balcony, the artist is encouraging us to go far even though we know it is also always autobiographical. The man next door, the ultimate frightener, brings actual youth, imagined youth, as well as death together. Age does help, clarity returns, and a need to envisage, imagine, reconvene becomes even stronger. ... light shining through from behind promises a perpetual further stage of understanding and experience.

In his most recent work Malone engages with the physical in a different manner. Rather than paint and draw in the one place, on one plane, he encourages the audience, to walk through, to participate in a different manner to capture the situation ’inhabited’ by the secretive man, for instance, by characters, the aftermath, the incident, the web of narrative, compounded and compressed. Setting up, in more recent work, almost a stage set, the drawing is cut into, so that light shining through from behind promises a perpetual further stage of understanding and experience. Caught between the imagery of moment, the shared construction of incident, framed often to hold the drama still, by walking through and into the space or place. The sense is still that this is anchored in reality. Trees reach out to each other; real owls sit still on the balcony of the villa and the experience of a split personality, a double act, which makes up the artist’s extra, substitute, ego, remains. For Malone, the world is divided into fixers and dreamers. The fixers exist in reality in order to really understand, while the dreamers live out of time and place. We are caught up with the description but not the rationale. Malone too, is inside as well as outside the process of his own work. He knows the ‘boy’ is just a lovely extension of himself, the core, or centrality of a story to be constantly embellished, polished, carved, taken up over again and again. Ambiguity of comprehension is part of the work, as with the ambiguity of direction in the mode, manner and method of any literary device. Engaging forever with a range of media and method to say it better, Malone shows a strange frustration with, as well as excitement for, his very own subject. ©Sacha Craddock 2018

Ascend on Light the Sleeping Stair charcoal, acrylic and wood on canvas 184 x 206 x 30 cms

Previous Pages Studio Installation

Down Through Shoals of Muted Eyes charcoal, acrylic and wood on canvas, 184 x 206 x 30 cms

Heathlands charcoal and acrylic on canvas, 200 x 180 cms

Dissolution I acrylic on canvas 90 x 90 cms

Partition I charcoal on canvas 200 x 180 cms

Partition II charcoal on canvas 200 x 180 cms

The Balcony acrylic on canvas 155 x 122 x 5 cms

The Dance of Day acrylic on canvas 180 x 180 x 4 cms

The Disappearance - A Tale of Two Lives I charcoal, acrylic and wood on canvas 184 x 206 x 30 cms

Two Lives I acrylic on canvas 155 x 122 x 5 cms

Biography Nick Malone crosses art forms to create adventures through narrative, soundscape, drawing and painting. He was awarded an MA with Distinction in Contemporary Literature at Queen Mary College, London and an MA in Fine Art at Central St. Martins. Initially a writer, he left academic life to become a full-time artist, and has exhibited extensively, both in London and internationally. He has received an Arts Council England Award to support him in the development of his creative work, and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. Nick Malone currently lives and works in London.

Selected Exhibitions 2018 The Disappearance of Makepeace - A Tale of Two Lives, Bermondsey Project Space, London. (Solo Catalogue Essay: Sacha Craddock) 2017 A Tale of Two Lives, Art Bermondsey Project Space, London. (Solo - Catalogue Essay: Anna McNay) Visions - Anima Mundi Festival, Palazzo Ca’ Zanardi, Venice Biennale ArtMaze - International Selection of Emerging Artists, Summer Issue: Guest Curator - Cheyenne Sauter, Executive Director, Art Share Los Angeles

2016 Contemporary Watercolour Competition, Royal Watercolour Society, Bankside Gallery Secret Art Prize, Curious Duke, London 2015 The Zeitgeist Summer Exhibition, Bond House Gallery, London 2014 Summer Exhibition, Royal Academy, London Contemporary Watercolour Competition, Royal Watercolour Society, Bankside Gallery Open Exhibition, Dulwich Picture Gallery, London 2013 Postcards From My Studio, ACME Project Space, London 2010 Paper Myths: Constructing the Other - Sketchbooks, Tate Modern 2008 Passages, SW1 Gallery, London (Solo - Catalogue Essay: J J Charlesworth) 2007 Medical Foundation for the Victims of Torture, Contemporary Art Auction, London 2006 Quick and Dirty, Oxo Tower, Bargehouse Gallery, London MA Graduation Show, Central St. Martins 30 x 30, Vertigo Gallery, London 2005 New Work from Cyprus, The Hellenic Centre, London (Solo) Gallery Artists, Vertigo Gallery, London Discord, Temporary Contemporary, London

2004 Contemporary British Painting, EWACC, Tokyo 2003 Art London, Contemporary Art Fair, London Gallery Artists, Vertigo Gallery 2002 Lost Eidolons, Vertigo Gallery, London (Solo) British Painting Now, Arts Council Gallery, Idaho, USA Drawing, Vertigo Gallery, London Byte - New Digital Work, The Media Centre, London 2001 Chamber, e1 Gallery, London (Solo - Catalogue Essay: Gregory Desjardins) 2000 Art Paris, Carousel du Louvre, Paris Art London, Contemporary Art Fair, London The New Elemental Aesthetic, e1 Gallery, London 1999 Recovering, e1 Gallery, London (Solo - Catalogue Essay: Libby Anson) Art 99, London Contemporary Art Fair, London Vital Art, The Gallery, Clerkenwell, London 1998 New Work, Conningsby Gallery, London (Solo) 1997 Light and Ice, University of Wisconsin, USA (Solo) The Hunting National Art Competition Exhibition, London

1996 Balkan Earth, British Council, Greece (Solo) Dragons on the Move, Raw Gallery, London Stratospherics, Raw Gallery, London 1995 Art in Action, Cornell Buildings, London 1994 The Earth Moved, Raw Gallery, London (Solo) Nick Malone, The Central Exhibition Gallery, Milton Keynes (Solo) Past, Present and Future, Clove Two Gallery, London Midsummer Art Show, Raw Gallery, London 1993 New Work, University of Luton (Solo) Summer Art Exhibition, Central Business Exchange, London 1992 Excavations, The Open University (Solo) Fresh Art, The Design Centre, Islington, London Connecting Lines, The Rietveldt Academy, Amsterdam 1991 New English Art, The Mall Gallery, London

Selected Bibliography

Collections Nick Malone’s work is represented in a number of collections, including: Salford Art Gallery British Council Greece One Aldwych Horsham Arts Centre University of Wisconsin BUPA Tradition Financial Services Granville Holdings West LB GlaxoSmithKline I Hennig & Co Brokers RAC Manches LLP

Anna McNay | Travelling through Time and Space: Meaning and Interpretation in the Work of Nick Malone Catalogue. Art Bermondsey Project Space, 2017 Jo Baring |Nick Malone Rise Art, 2015 J J Charlesworth | Passages Catalogue, SW1 Gallery, 2008 Selected Letters of William Empson (ed John Haffenden) OUP, 2006 Brian Sewell | Interview The Big Art Challenge Channel Five Television, 2004

Teaching Experience

Gregory Desjardins | Chamber Catalogue. e1 Gallery, 2001

Visiting Professor in Contemporary Literature University of Wisconsin USA 1995 / 1996

Libby Anson | Recovering Catalogue. e1 Gallery, 1999

Visiting Professor in Modern Literature Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece 1994 / 1995

Rachel Campbell-Johnston Around The London Galleries The Times Wed. 19 May 1999 New Work by Nick Malone Contemporary Art Volume Two Number Three

Selected Writing Jason Smith’s Nocturnal Opera The Cinnamon Press The Song of the Expelled Insects Prizewinner. The National Poetry Competition The Burial of Crispin Pyke introduction by Sir William Empson The Workshop Press

Disappearance II mixed media, 82 x 61 x 8 cms

Acknowledgements I should like to acknowledge the huge contributions made by the sculptor and artist George Dixon (Instagram: georgedixon_art) and the animator and artist Sian Bliss ( in the preparation and presentation of this exhibition. Nick Malone 2018

Erasmus Co-ordinator for European Student Exchange 1992 -1997 Course Director / Principal Lecturer BA Humanities Degree Course University of Luton 1988 - 1997 Awards Arts Council England Award Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts Website