Words by Dan Brennan
An exhibition centred around young, abstract artists can be a very problematic thing, as although the angst and introspection that comes with youth can produce genuinely thoughtful and creative pieces, more than often it can result in something that generally lacks weight or simply seems disinterested in articulating any kind of purpose.
I arrived at the Fallout Factory not entirely sure what to expect from this exhibition; the description offered to me through the gallery’s website was rather vague, claiming that the pieces on display represent the personal ‘strengths, weaknesses and journeys’ of the various young artists behind it. This turned out to be quite a blanket statement with the meaning ‘whatever you like’, as I found myself looking at simplistic pieces I would expect to find on a higher-education art classroom wall.
This is not a knock against the skill of the artists, as they are all clearly able when it comes to their various processes, but rather I simply feel that many of the pieces were produced with the mindset of showcasing said process, which may be what earns grades, but unfortunately doesn’t make for particularly interesting artwork.
There were of course exceptions to this, and although some of these presented rather interesting techniques and ideas, the pieces with an apparent meaning were usually attempting to convey an idea or message just too lacking in weight to really make you think, which, coupled with rather simplistic visuals, fail to truly catch the interest of the observer.
If I was to recommend this exhibition to people, it would really only be for two particular pieces (on a side-note, I now understand why these two happen to be only ones posted on the exhibition’s Twitter page) the first being Samantha Furness’ paint, pen and ink on canvas piece, simply titled: ‘Unknown’. Perhaps one of the most abstract works, the piece attempts to depict the artist’s own mind and emotional struggles, making use of a simple black and white colour scheme, clashing and intertwining through her use of numerous different techniques, ultimately resulting in the most visually interesting piece on display.
Of course my highlight would have to be Mia Cathcart’s oil on canvas painting: ‘Untitled’, depicts a mostly realistic portrait, distorted by dribbling paint and and washed-out colours to create a decaying effect, serving as a genuinely thought-provoking statement on the relevancy of realism and portraiture in an age where post-modern abstraction seems to be all that truly matters any more.
A message made unfortunately more interesting when considering what the rest of the show had to offer.