David Dale Gallery are pleased to present Never Spotted Leopard, an exhibition of new work by UK born, Denmark based, artists Keith Allan and Tomas Downes.
In his 2013 essay, The Never-Spotted Leopard, George Monboit hypothesises that the abundance of unproven big cat sightings in the UK is symptomatic of the population’s desire for a wilder life. It is this manifestation of a nation’s psyche, and the duality this creates for our fictional beasts, that is illustrative of the implicit duplicity that both Allan and Downes’ work stems from. It is the dual states of this cat, both real and unreal, both fear inducing and comforting, that is an apt metaphor for the parallel conflicting states that their practices embrace. The oscillation between positions and narratives within their work continues throughout production and concept – the object becoming an example of the possibility of being two opposing things simultaneously.
In Allan’s work, his re-contextualisation of images into three-dimensional forms uses the found objects and scenarios – such as steel shelving or scaffolding – which originally inform the work as also the product. Through specific treatment of these found and discarded materials, references to their original uses are both reinforced and obscured. The original surfaces are reworked in terms of both form and colouring. Salvaged material is transformed and given new meaning within the context of minimal sculptures. These objects are altered with industrial lacquers, paint strippers and waxes. Layers of original lacquer on the material’s surface are removed and new lacquer applied, whereby parts of the surface are left in their original state. The process serves to release these objects from their original history and function.
Logical relationships between the objects are established and a new logic emerges, which switches between functionality and re-contextualisation. Often dealing with issues relating to industry, trade and urban developments, these topics commonly exist as both good and bad concurrently – good intentions pursued maliciously and vice versa, a question of perspective and context. One such example, urban regeneration, exploits the real and replaces it with a palatable artifice – an illusionary duplication.
Downes’ works contraflow, flattening concepts and practice to surface – the thing to a representation of the thing. In his recent work of re-photographed surfaces, the artifice of the print becomes a signifier for the original – an image of what the original represents: labour and production. Working with charts and graphic representations of production spliced with photographic sources, the large-scale UV cured inkjets on linoleum in part address printing, authenticity and style, and responsibility for production. The conflict of authenticity’s relationship to value is a subject often suggested within this series, that forgery and removal from the original can have a distinct value in itself, and that its production of meaning can be equally valid, though counter-intuitively so.
In addition, to the duality and concealment of deceitful practices within their work, there is an agreement between Allan and Downes in their formal, and related to the industrial, approaches. The use of an oblique formal elegance is a necessity created by their desire to inhabit the form of the subject. There is a distinct criticality to this approach though, and a comment on the styles of blank abstraction often employed to mask a vacuum of thought.
Keith Allan (b.1986 Darvel, UK) lives and work in Copenhagen, Denmark. Recent exhibitions include: Tell me again slowly…what were you doing on Mars, OK Corral, Copenhagen, 2015; De Generation of Painting, Fondazione 107, Turin, 2014; Everything is Connected, Neter Projects, Mexico City, 2014; I Worn My Elbows (solo), Jan Kaps, Cologne, 2013; We Can’t Go Wrong With A Shooting Gent (solo), Toves Galleri, Copenhagen, 2013.
Tomas Downes (b. 1986 Birmingham, UK) lives and works in Copenhagen, Denmark. Recent exhibitions include: 1882-1936, (I) A – F (solo), Green Is Gold, Copenhagen, 2015; << < > >>, Super Dakota, Brussels, 2014; Image Acquisition Methods (solo), Limoncello, London, 2013; Friendship in Six Planes (with Oliver Osborne), Peles Empire, London, 2013; Beyond the Object, Brand New, Milan, 2013; Young British Art II (curated by Ryan Gander and Christina von Rotenhan), Dienstgebaude, Zurich, 2012.