'Grub Party' - Transition Two Gallery
Maybe I should not have chosen a cold and rainy Saturday afternoon for my visit to Hackney's Transition Two. Maybe the foul weather had already soured my mood to such an extent that when I arrived at the gallery, shivering and wet, and struggled to press their bell with frozen fingers I was never going to be in a mindset to appreciate the work on display.
But I really wanted to like this show. I have always been a fan of Transition in its previous incarnations and often found their exhibitions and their overall DIY, fanzine-loving, female artists-championing ethos quite refreshing. Transition was also one of the few galleries that showed the painter Rose Wylie long before she became an art world darling.
Unfortunately this latest exhibition 'Grub Party' is a lackluster and puzzling offering that leaves a bad taste in the mouth.
The press release states that the show is all about 'hatching, breeding and changing' and an expression of 'fecundity'. There is little new life being birthed in this show and nothing worth of note is emerging from this overcooked arty egg.
Instead, Susie Hamilton's works are just poorly executed squiggles on shabbily installed pieces of papers and draw too much (unflattering) comparison to Wylie's work, while the clashing and frankly ghastly colours used in Thompson's paintings are enough to give most of us a migraine.
Sometimes I visit a show and what immediately comes to my mind is 'why? why on earth would you want to show this? what does this artist has to say that hasn't been said a thousand times before?'. This is one of those experiences.
I think the issue might be that when a gallery continuously show artists who all have rather similar styles, ways of thinking and interests, then it just gets stuck in a rut.
No one want to see a never-ending conveyor belt of Wylie-inspired clones or work which is too closely similar to that of gallery director and artist Cathy Lomax.
Lomax's painting are truly beautiful in their own right but filling in her gallery and magazines (Garageland and Arty) with works that reminds viewers of her own is not the way to go.
To be fair Transition Two is not the only art space endlessly recycling the same ideas and works. Recent art fairs in London were awash with 'clone artists' who all seem to be copying each other, and established artists, rather than having any kind of unique voice.
This approach to selecting and showing work leads to a sea of conformity and banality. We need artist-led, independent spaces a to continue to take more risks, innovate and show original artists rather than pander to their mates and just follow a tired formula.
I wish the gallery well though based on past efforts, and I hope this is simply a blip in their programming.
'Grub Party' is on at Transition Two until 24 November 2019.