Press release, 2019
Soul Swallower is an investigation of the intersection between painting, photography and film, a search for tranquillity in an indefinable infinite moment. Staged within the current Western world, where truth and reality has no fixed position and freedom is continuously redefined by the powers that govern. He*re Ifill trespasses between the lines of the paradoxical, seeking territory untainted by the toxicity of capitalist progress. Finding sanity in the psychotic, harmoniously humming provokingly out of the tune with the repetitious rants of the schizophrenic slur of modernity.
The exhibition is comprised of five elements – at first they appear as three paintings, a film and a framed photographic print. But perhaps all, in fact, elude classifications and instead occupy the space in between the defining characteristics distinguishing and excluding each from the other. The artist metaphorically questions the motives of these classifications, imprisoning each medium, exposing the infinite array of possibilities that emerge upon their dissolution. Viewers are persuaded to consider, what they may naturally perceive as paintings, instead as photographs, photographic print alternatively as a painting, and the looped film as the mediator between the two, so they coexist as painting, photography and film.
Mounted on three of the four walls are three works, each comprising of a complex multiple layering of acrylic paint on canvas, stretched over rigid forms of plywood, individually measuring roughly 152 x 45 cm but varying slightly in dimensions. Aesthetically, these appear not unlike the minimalist and abstract paintings of artists such as Brice Marden, Blinky Palermo and Agnes Martin. However, they are compositionally based on light test strips used in the initial stages of manually printing a colour photograph by way of traditional techniques in the darkroom.
A piece of photographic paper, which can only be handled outside of it's storage box in complete darkness, is at first cut into three strips. Individually these strips are then exposed to establish the basis of which a photograph can then be exposed to obtain the desired image. The irregularity found in the works’ shapes and sizes arise from the inability to cut straight lines in the darkness of the darkroom. The colour is attributed to the increased amount of light, with the particular reference strips being exposed using zero yellow filter, zero magenta filter, via a .22 aperture at three-second intervals.
On the remaining wall, we find a single work on paper measuring 24.4 x 33 cm, printed using traditional colour photography techniques exposing light via a blank negative that has been scratched with a key. Displaying clear traces of the hand, as in painting, mediums cross-pollinate. A painting of a photograph? Or a photograph of a painting? On the gallery floor we find a monitor showing a looped video of Ifill’s dog chasing it’s tail, nails clinking on the studio floor. Reminiscent of Bruce Nauman’s early video works that now seem like a landmark in the history of art, in which the great American artist redefined and maximised the possibilities within, by insisting that art can simply be anything that takes place in the artist’s studio. However, here Ifill turns the camera on his dog, trapped in an infinite loop, frustrated and taunted by an inevitable impossibility. Perhaps a metaphor for the human condition within the cogs of the 21st century, displaying no means to an end. With disregard to the classical film components of a beginning, middle and end, the monitor appears beyond the constraints of time, providing a plane of contemplation.
By asking the viewer to accept these each as an alternative medium, we wonder whether they, as objects, become physical proof of the continuously evolving human perception, reminding us of times in a not so distant past, where our ideas towards things such as science, politics, religion, gender, sexuality and race, were surely different - thus providing optimism of what could lay ahead. Or are they cynical manifestations of a dystopia, carved out by a totalitarian ruler, insisting we disregard our individual beliefs in place of those dictated to us? As in a democracy, the viewer is reminded of their own power to thoughts and opinions, despite all coaxing and insinuations. A right to the freedom to agree or reject. A prompt to live instinctively rather than rationally.
Kingsley Ifill (b. 1988) lives and works in London, UK. Ifill unfolds his practice in a variety of different media; film, painting, print, artist books, sculpture, photography and installation, consciously challenging the boundaries of traditional classification. Recent solo exhibitions includes Bouquet, LNCC, London, UK, Last Sip First, Gallery pleasewait, Paris, France and Mute, Golborne Gallery, London, UK.
Soul Swallower is Kingsley Ifills first exhibition with V1 Gallery.
Opening reception: Friday June 7, 2019. From 5pm-9pm (17-21).
Exhibition period: June 8 - August 10, 2019.
The gallery is closed for summer holidays, July 7 - July 30.
Opening hours: Wednesday-Friday: 12-18. Saturday: 12-16. Or by appointment.