RED Reviewed

Updated: Oct 23, 2018

Curated by the Director of the Norman Rea Gallery, Grace Frazer, and co-curated by Pearlin Guillon, Head of Press and Publicity, the exhibition Red is unlike any other that has been previously shown at the gallery. It's bold, it's atmospheric and it's immersive.

The exhibition was curated, and created, to explore the significance and symbolisation of the colour "red", both within an artistic context, as predetermined by the gallery space, and in relation to the viewer. The artworks, by artists including the 'award winning artist neon maker' Julia Bickerstaff, the Zinneke group, Grace Kneifati and Max Wasinski, directly 'experiment with the senses by challenging the human response of fight or flight'. Their interactive qualities, be it through the engaging visuals, the loud audios, or the soliciting of a psychological and/or 'physiological response', certainly helps provoke a 'transformative experience' in the viewer. In doing so, Red proves the power in combining and exhibiting multimedia in the gallery space.

On entrance, the viewer is directly confronted with two pieces by the Zinneke group, a UoY creative collective which works in the aim to 'push collaborations and challenge boundaries with visceral and rich audiovisuals'. Both of their works of art in Red are visual projections onto the gallery wall; the first is on a diagonal and shows disseminating light in typical colours of red and gold, which stretches halfway down the corridor to meet the video (Fig.2). Combined with an atmospheric audio recalling that of Brian Eno, the video's 'modern day' subject matter has been combined with 'a darker, glitter image of an urban setting' to explore innate human feeling. Zinneke's installation demarcates its surrounding space, and acts to conceptualise the gallery within this framework.

Julia Bickerstaff's five neon artworks, staged across the main gallery space, are instrumental in framing the exhibition in two ways; firstly, to provide light, and secondly to explore our 'unique privilege of emotional existence'. Her works, such as Yorkshire Star (Fig.3) and Charles Dickens - signature (Fig.4) are defined by their luminosity and intricate engineering; this serves to conceptualise the 'unexplained and mysterious' into the exhibition, and yet the works are humanised by their references to Charles Dickens and Joseph Swan. Each piece encourages the viewer to look closer, certainly 'inviting intrigue' as was described by Bickerstaff.

These works, coupled with ethereal neon lighting and a live set, makes not only for a contemporary re-working of the university gallery space, but also for a 'deconstruction of the traditional white-cube space' common to the other galleries. The Red exhibition invites the spectator, and then promptly challenges their gaze.

Matilda Bentley

(Main photograph taken by Fiona Wong)

(All other photos taken by M.D Bentley)

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