The Gallery - Current Exhibition
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By Kitty Blandy
15th August – 2nd September
Irreverent and revealing inter-species sculptures that put a spin on the conventions of portraiture, and related drawings.
The pieces in this exhibition come from two linked bodies of work, The Subject's Not the Issue and animal (instincts). The Subject's Not the Issue emerged from several sources including the myth of Kentish men (said to be born with tails, as a punishment for the murder of Thomas á Becket) and the Grinagog (a person who grins all the time without sufficient reason). The derivation of the word came from the Nordic word “grin” which was used with reference to the baring of teeth both by humans and beasts alike.
In combination these two ideas have reinforced a shift in my work. From the primarily human figurative to men discovering their own tails, dogs with grinning human heads and the anthropomorphic changes that these possibilities suggest. Furthering my interest in both the autographic mark while also entertaining the "idea of animalism as described by a form of sensuality and the doctrine that humans are mere animals, or as some might have it, animals are merely human".
The common thread in the works of animal (instincts) (which range from small, flocked drawings to large charcoal ones on canvas and cast polyurethane sculptures) is the physical sympathy that we as humans have with the "animal". By sympathy, I mean the sharing of a thing's sensation and condition. Gilles Deleuze touches on this when he expresses the "animal spirit of man: a pig-spirit, a buffalo-spirit, a dog-spirit, a bat-spirit" when describing Francis Bacon's pursuits "to dismantle the face". He also goes on to say that "man becomes animal, but not without the animal becoming spirit at the same time […] the man who suffers is a beast, the beast that suffers is a man […] this is the reality of becoming”. Some of the titles make reference to these thoughts.
The materials in these works challenge and undermine assumptions of their high art status through their intentional associations with massed produced novelties. For example, high density expanded foam creates forms that can imitate carved marble and bright red, flocked plastic is used where bronze might be the expectation and thereby subverts conventional aspects of production.
Kitty Blandy is a London-born, Vancouver based artist who exhibits in both locations. Raised in a medical family Blandy was exposed from a young age to images of bodies; some whole, some in parts. She grew up observing her surgeon father as he wrote and illustrated medical books and reviewed his films of operations. She has strong childhood memories of waiting in the hospital on Saturdays for her father to finish seeing his patients, before he would take her to museums or galleries. She viewed the hospital in London’s East End as a living museum, ancient and congested with patients; whose corporeal expressions affected her deeply. These beginnings prompted an independent visual training; explorations of the human form through drawing, print and sculpture. For over two decades she made work and exhibited extensively in commercial galleries.
Recent exhibitions have presented the underlying existential themes in her work. This autumn Blandy has been invited to participate in the Reflecting Venice Residency Program at the Venice Printmaking Studio. Her project will investigate how Venetians define themselves through their narcissistic relationship with the canine, how dogs reflect human concerns through the animal alter ego. The resulting works will be part of an exhibition sponsored by the Veneto Region and City of Venice, to raise awareness around conservation and cultural heritage.
Blandy's work is included in private and public collections, notably the National Portrait Gallery, London (bronze).
I work, predominantly, on explorations of extreme physiognomic form and states-of-being using printmaking, drawing and sculpture. My recent work, explores anthropomorphism and the human/animal hybrid. My intellectual interest and visual work focuses on existential expressions of the body, what Gilles Deleuze terms as the reality of becoming. Intense examination of the human form in all its physicality has led me to the concept of "man becoming animal". Recent work has shifted from the primarily human figurative to men discovering their own tails, dogs with grinning human heads and the anthropomorphic changes that these possibilities suggest. My investigation into the human body through the autographic mark allows me to entertain the idea of animalism as a form of sensuality and the physical sympathy (sharing of sensation and condition) that we as humans have with the animal.