Charlie Levine goes inside the White Cube for a review of the current exhibition at Mason’s Yard

Art Fetch

For Art Fetch, Charlie Levine goes inside the White Cube for a review of the current exhibition at Mason’s Yard.

Like many curators, I have been hugely influenced by Brian O’Doherty’s wonderful and seminal book, Inside the White Cube, the Ideology of the gallery Space (1976).  The book, which began life as a series of Artforum essays, defined new ways of thinking about exhibitions and the contemporary white walled art gallery. So, when I heard that the latest Mason’s Yard White Cube gallery exhibition, Open Cube, guest curated by Adriano Pedrosa, was inspired directly by O’Doherty’s book, I had to go and see it.

I wasn’t disappointed. Not only is it a fascinating exhibition, but also reflects a great deal of what Artfetch believes in, and is working to achieve. The 17 artists in the exhibition were selected from an open call out for proposals – a brave thing for a gallery with the branded reputation of White Cube – as an open call invites a deluge. The gallery received over 2,900 applications, from which the curator interviewed 38 to select the final group.

This process of deliberately working with artists new to the curator breaks down the idea of curator/artists networks, drawing its concepts from O’Doherty’s ideas about the ‘inside’ and ‘outside’ relationships of a gallery. The idea of opening up the application process and allowing audiences, the gallery and the curator to push themselves in terms of looking for, working with and presenting a new stock of artists is incredible, though only in terms of how top level galleries usually work. By this I mean, it shouldn’t be so unusual, and as I considered this, I began to wonder at how difficult it is for new artists to break into these ‘inside’ relationships.

This relates directly to what we are doing at Artfetch, as we believe it is vital to open the processes of becoming an art world insider, so that talented artists can come to the publics who would otherwise not have a chance to see their work. And although internet–based, face to face meetings are a vital part of our commissioning process. If the relationship and quality of work is there, we invite the artist to work with us.

Open Cube itself is broken down into two parts: on the ground floor the exhibition concerns itself with commerce, value and currency; meanwhile, the lower floor of the Mason’s Yard building looks at different forms of abstraction: including constructivist and geometric, as well as organic, amorphous, and fluid types.

Particular stand out works were by Fay Nicholson’s A is for Albers, a small stack of photocopied postcards, sliced in two by a sheet of Perspex; a series of large photographs of foreign coins by Martin John Callanan; and Jacopo Trabona’s Untitled, which was a simple few cuts on a sheet of paper made by slicing a diamond across it. But my particular favourite was Nicky Teegan’s Void a flat circle of woven VHS tape over a bent steel ring.  It summed up the show for me: defunct material (the VHS tape) re–used to create a typical fine art image – the circle.  It was creating something new and conceptual from the old and familiar.

This exhibition is excellent, from its concept to realisation.  It is a must see show that I hope is the start of a new way of thinking about artist/gallery networks, and about how we produce exhibitions and create new associations. The process itself also questions the role of the physical gallery space, as the open method of calling for, and selecting works, echoes the opportunities offered by the internet – something Pedrosa realises, as he notes his ambition for the show: to break down the “seemingly closed systems that exist in the criteria for staging exhibitions”. About time too.

Open Cube, is at White Cube Mason’s Yard, London, until 21 September 2013

Artists: Matt Ager, Frank Ammerlaan, Adriano Amaral, Helen Barff, Sarah Bernhardt, Martin John Callanan, Nuno Direitinho, Venisha Francis–Hinkson, Rodrigo Garcia Dutra, Rowena Harris, Alan Magee, Fay Nicolson, Daniel de Paula, Nada Prlja, Nicky Teegan, Jacopo Trabona and Caitlin Yardley.

Charlie Levine is Chief UK Artfetcher and Curator.

Fundamental Units at White Cube Mason’s Yard, 12 July – 21 September 2013

White Cube Mason's Yard

São Paulo-based curator Adriano Pedrosa curates an attempt to “infiltrate the hierarchies of the gallery system” by inviting any interested artists to submit works through an open submission process involving an interview and selection system that closed in February 2013. Featured artists include Slade graduate Martin John Callanan and Camberwell graduate Venisha Francis-Hickson.

Open Cube, White Cube Mason’s Yard, 12 July – 21 September 2013

Open Cube, White Cube, Mason's Yard alt="Open Cube, White Cube, Mason's Yard"

Download the press release (PDF)
Download gallery information guide (PDF)
Watch Adriano Pedrosa talk about the exhibition
Buy the catalogue

White Cube Mason’s Yard is pleased to present ‘Open Cube’, an international group exhibition organised by São Paulo-based curator Adriano Pedrosa. Invited by the gallery to curate an exhibition, Pedrosa launched a process of open submission via Art Agenda in January 2013, under the title ‘Call for entries: ‘Open Cube’ at White Cube Mason’s Yard’. The only requirement was that the artist needed to be available for an interview in London with the curator, in March 2013. ‘Open Cube’ received over 2,900 applicants, of which Pedrosa interviewed 38 and selected a final group of 17 artists.

Taking his cue from Brian O’Doherty’s seminal book Inside the White Cube, the Ideology of the Gallery Space (1976), Pedrosa’s exhibition challenges the identity of White Cube as an organisation, as a physical space and as a concept, questioning the complex relationships between existent notions of ‘inside’ and ‘outside’, value and economics. By opening up the curatorial selection process beyond his own networks and meeting with artists who were previously unknown to him, Pedrosa confronts what he perceives to be the standard gallery practice of seemingly closed systems that exist in the criteria for staging exhibitions.

The works in the ground-floor gallery are concerned with the concept of the ‘white cube’ and the ‘open cube’ itself, of public and private spaces, as well as value and currency. The works in the lower ground-floor gallery present different forms of abstraction – constructivist and geometric and also organic, amorphous, fluid types – yet many of these run counter to traditional modernist abstract idioms. The 17 artists included in this exhibition, from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, The Netherlands, Portugal, Ireland, UK and USA, have created work that seeks, as Pedrosa says, ‘to contest these national boundaries as well as the very identity of White Cube itself.’

In the accompanying catalogue, which includes transcripts of the interviews Pedrosa conducted with the 17 selected artists, he suggests that the ‘Open Cube’ is a transparent cube and sets out to reveal what goes on behind the gallery doors. Pedrosa is himself interviewed by Pablo Leon de la Barra, in order to expose his own methods and the motivations behind this exhibition. The publication is fully illustrated and will be available in September 2013.

Open Cube Catalogue

Artists:

Matt Ager was born in 1985 in England and lives and works in London. He recently completed a residency at Skowhegan School in Maine, USA and is currently part of the postgraduate programme at the Royal Academy Schools in London. Recent exhibitions include ‘Classic Poncho’, The China Shop, Oxford (2013); ‘A Nod’, Space in Between, London (2012); ‘OVERTHIN’, Gallery Primo Alonso, London (2011) and ‘DUMBO Arts Festival’, Brooklyn, USA (2010).

Adriano Amaral was born in 1982 in Brazil and lives and works in London. He is currently studying for an MA in Sculpture at the Royal College of Art, London. Recent exhibitions include ‘WIP Show’, Royal College of Art, London (2013); ‘Embaixo da Terra o Cèu de Novo’, Transversal Gallery, São Paulo (2012); ‘Solo Objects’, Arco Madrid (2012) and ‘Nova Escultura Brasileira’, Caixa Cultural, Rio de Janeiro (2011).

Frank Ammerlaan was born in 1979 in Sassenheim, The Netherlands and lives and works in London. He holds a BA in Fine Art from Gerrit Rietveld Art Academy, Amsterdam and an MFA in Painting from the Royal College of Art, London (2012). Awards include the Land Securities studio award, Degree Show, Royal College of Art (2012), a residency at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Calasetta, Italy (2013) and the Royal Award of Painting, The Netherlands (2012). Recent exhibitions include ‘Painting without Paint’, David Risley Gallery, Copenhagen (2012); ‘Day’s End’, Upstream Gallery, Amsterdam and ‘Stereopsis’, The Drawing Room, London (2012).

Helen Barff was born in 1974 in England and lives and works in London. She holds a BA (Hons) in Fine Art and Art History from Goldsmiths College, London (1999) and an MA in Drawing from Camberwell College of Arts, London. Residencies include Greatmore Studios, Cape Town and Gasworks Gallery/The Triangle Arts Trust, London (2008).Recent exhibitions include ‘Brood’, Bend in the River, Gainsborough (2011); ‘Things from the Thames’, Bearspace, London (2005); ‘Trident Way’, Departure Gallery, London (2010). Site-specific projects include ‘Route 12:36’, South London Gallery: Artwork on bus routes 12 and 36, London (2000).

Sarah Bernhardt was born in 1989 in Canterbury, UK and lives and works in London. She received a BA in Fine Art at Central Saint Martins. Recent exhibitions include ‘Co-Respondent’, Transition Gallery, London (2013) and ‘The Sand Between God’s Toes’, Pie Factory, Margate (2012).

Martin John Callanan was born in 1982 in the UK and lives and works in London. He holds an MFA from The Slade School of Fine Art, University College London (2005) and is currently a Teaching Fellow in Fine Art Media at the Slade School of Fine Art, University College London. Recent exhibitions include ‘Along Some Sympathetic Lines’, Or Gallery, Berlin (2013); Whitstable Biennale (2012); Horrach Moya Gallery, Palma (2012) and ‘Deed Poll’, a performance at Whitechapel Gallery, London (2012).

Nuno Direitinho was born in 1981 in Portugal and lives and works in London. He holds a BA in Fine Art Photography from the Glasgow School of Art (2011) and is currently doing his MFA in Fine Art Media at the Slade School of Fine Art, University College London. Recent exhibitions include ‘Voies Off’, La Galerie a Ciel Ouvert, Arles, France (2012); ‘Emergents DST’, Teatro Circo de Braga, Portugal (2011) and ‘3+1’, Assembly Gallery, Glasgow (2011).

Venisha Francis-Hinkson was born in 1989 in England and lives and works in London. She holds a BTEC National Diploma in Art and Design from St. Francis Xavier College (2009) and a BA (Hons) in Drawing from Camberwell College of Arts (2012). Recent exhibitions include ‘Future Map 12’, CSM Lethaby & Window Galleries, London (2013); The Learning Resource Centre, Camberwell College of Arts (2012) and ‘Peek Show’, The Biscuit Factory, London (2011).

Rodrigo Garcia Dutra was born in 1981 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and lives and works in London. He holds an MA Fine Art from Central Saint Martin’s School of Art and Design, London (2009) and is currently studying for an MA in Sculpture from the Royal College of Art, London (2014). Awards include Fundacão Bienal de São Paulo, Programa Brasil Arte Contemporanea. Recent exhibitions include ‘Notes to Self’, Royal College of Art, London (2013); ‘Outras Coisas Visiveis Sobre Papel’, Galerie Leme, São Paulo (2012); ‘Theory of a City or the Possibilities of an A4′, ISCP, New York City (2011) and ’17 Ingredients: Measures of Autonomy’, BASH Studios, London (2009).

Rowena Harris was born in 1985 in Norfolk and lives and works in London. She holds an MFA in Art Practice from Goldsmiths College, London (2010) and a BA in Fine Art from University College Falmouth, UK (2008). She is the founder and editor of a bi-annual art publication called ‘Misery Connoisseur Magazine’. Recent exhibitions include ‘Cold Compress’, Drei Gallery, Cologne (2012); ‘No More Icons’, Rod Barton Gallery, London (2012); ‘Believing in Things’, Van Horbourg Gallery, Basel (2011); ‘New Contemporaries’, ICA, London and The A Foundation, Liverpool (2010).

Alan Magee was born in 1979 in Ireland and lives and works in London. He holds an MA in Fine Art from Central Saint Martin’s College of Art and Design. Awards include Florence Trust Studio Residency, Arts Council of Ireland and Travel and Mobility Award. Recent exhibitions include ‘Endogenous’, Maria Stenfors Gallery, London (2012); ‘Agents of change’, Studio 1.1, London (2012) and ‘Our Lives as Things’, Occupy Space, Limerick, Ireland (2011).

Fay Nicolson was born in 1984 in Derby, UK and lives and works in London. She holds a BA in Fine Art from Central Saint Martin’s College of Art and Design, London (2006) and an MFA in Fine Art from the Royal College of Art, London (2011). Recent solo exhibitions include ‘Work with Material’, Künstlerhaus Wien, Vienna (2013) and ‘Bad Signs’, PLAZAPLAZA, London (2012). Group exhibitions include ‘A Small Hiccup’, Grand Union, Birmingham (2013); ‘Take Me Out’, Limoncello Art Projects, The London Art Fair (2013) and ‘Manifesta 8’, Murcia, Spain (2010).

Daniel de Paula was born in 1987 in Boston, USA and lives and works between Itapevi, São Paulo and Paris. Recent exhibitions and residencies include ‘Espaáos Independents ñ a alma è o segredo do Ègocioí’, Galerias Funarte de Artes Visuais, São Paulo (2013), Citè Internationale des Arts Residency, Paris (2013) and ‘Da prûxima vez eu fazia tudo diferenteí’, Pivù, São Paulo (2012).

Nada Prlja was born in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina and lives and works in London. She holds a degree from the Academy of Fine Arts in Skopje, Macedonia and an MPhil research degree from the Royal College of Art, London. Recent exhibitions include the ‘7th Berlin Biennale’ (2012); Manifesta 8, Murcia, Spain (2010) and International Biennial of Graphic Arts, Ljubljana (2009). Recent public presentations include Nottingham Contemporary, UK (2013); ICA, London (2011) and Tate Britain (2009).

Nicky Teegan was born in 1987 in Ireland and lives and works in London. She holds a BA in Visual Arts Practice from IADT, Dublin (2009) and an MA in Fine art from Chelsea College of Art and Design, London (2012). She is a founding member of Ormond Studios, Dublin. Recent exhibitions include ‘MA Fine Art Show 2012’, Chelsea College of Art and Design, London (2012); ‘SWITCH/OVER’, Wimbledon Space, Wimbledon College of Art, London (2012) and ‘Invite or Reject’, Chicago Loop Alliance, Chicago, USA (2011).

Jacopo Trabona was born in 1989 in Italy and lives and works in London. He graduates this year with an MA from Chelsea College of Art, London. Recent exhibitions include RIVAlutACTION, Riva Lofts, Florence (2012); ‘B x H x Me’, A + A Gallery, Venice (2012); ’95 Young Talents Collective’, Bevilacqua La Masa Foundation, Venice (2011) and Cava delle Rosselle, Grosseto, Italy (2011).

Caitlin Yardley was born in 1984 in Australia and lives and works in London. She received an MA from Edith Cowan University, Perth, Australia (2007) and an MFA from Goldsmiths, University London (2012). Recent exhibitions include ‘Changing direction after entering at an angle’, Goldsmiths, University of London (2012); ‘Peripheral Orbit’, Acme, International Residency Studio, London and ‘An Intimate Distance’, Venn Gallery Project Space, Perth, Australia (2011).

Curator:

Adriano Pedrosa is an independent curator, editor and writer currently based in São Paulo. He has curated numerous international exhibitions and was adjunct curator of the 24th Bienal de São Paulo (1998) with chief curator Paulo Herkenhoff, co-curator of the 27th Bienal de São Paulo (2006) with chief curator Lisette Lagnado and co-curator of the 12th Istanbul Biennial (2011) with Jens Hoffmann. He has published extensively on contemporary art in numerous catalogues and magazines and is the founding director of PIESP-Programa Independente da Escola São Paulo.

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