Chisenhale Gallery presents a major solo exhibition by Glasgow-based artist Michael Fullerton. Columbia comprises a new series of sculptures, paintings, wall-mounted screen prints and moving image works. Examining a range of themes including intelligence systems, the power of aesthetics and the private and public histories of political intrigue, the works are presented together in a museum-like installation.
Columbia serves as a guiding iconic device throughout the exhibition, allowing Fullerton to explore concepts as various as discovery, colonial endeavour, the machinations of power and the construction of corporate identity. For Fullerton Columbia at once conjures the feminine personification of the USA, a famous space shuttle, and the explorer Christopher Columbus, as well as Columbia Pictures and the ‘Eye Device’ logo of the CBS television network which suggests both the act of looking and of being watched.
The paintings, which characteristically for Fullerton engage with the form of 18th Century portraiture, will continue Fullerton’s interest in painting figures who embody political commitment or represent strong ideological positions, here including figures such as Alan Turing, the developer of modern computer science juxtaposed with a contemporary SAS soldier. Thomas Gainsborough and his paintings of a political elite are a key reference point, as is a preoccupation with modes of recording and transmitting information.
Fullerton will also continue his distinct use of materials, oil paint or ferric oxide for example. The latter - the magnetic coating of analogue cassette tape recording becoming the ‘substance’ of information – in this instance a recording of the 1980 Iranian Embassy siege. The relationship between power, the aesthetic and the symbolic in contemporary cultural representation is combined with Fullerton’s interest in chemical experimentation, alchemy for want of another term. The transformation of inert matter into meaningful signs and symbols, the power of pleasure and art as a means of social and political agency
A series of talks and events will accompany the exhibition. Fullerton will also produce a new limited edition print on the occasion of his exhibition which will be available to buy from Chisenhale Gallery or via the website.
This is Michael Fullerton’s first major presentation in a public gallery since exhibitions at the Centre for Contemporary Art Glasgow and Art Now, Tate Britain in 2005. He is included in the British Art Show opening in October 2010 at Nottingham Contemporary.
Talks & Events
Thursday 16 September, 7pm
Writer William Clark presents his research on the American sociologist C. Wright Mills, exploring his concepts of 'cultural apparatus' and 'crackpot realism', as well as his influence on the 1960s New Left movement, his involvement with Che Guevara and Mills' key works including 'The Power Elite' (1959).
Saturday 18 September, 2-5pm
Family Day with John Walter
Join artist John Walter for a free afternoon drop-in family workshop inspired by Michael Fullerton’s exhibition. Suitable for all ages, but young children must be accompanied by an adult.
Saturday 9 October, 2pm
Michael Fullerton discusses his current exhibition with Clarrie Wallis, Curator, Tate Britain.
Chisenhale Exhibitions Partner 2010: Outset Contemporary Art Fund
64 Chisenhale Road
London E3 5QZ
Nearest tube is Bethnal Green or Mile End.