Discourse and dance. The Performance of a Process, the ability to balance with grace on the edge of a trash can and the mission for exploration into cross eyed gestures, painted mise en scene scripts and informal compositions of joy and boundless movement as a means to further inform the artists practice. These are all what lie at the vibrant core of Charlotte Gerard’s paintings.
Born and raised in the Normandy countryside, Guerard gives us access to a visual diary of collected emotions and a colloquial body of work in her debut solo show; Prawn Cocktail. For Charlotte, the process of her work began from an early age when she recalls impatiently waiting for the end of the day, rolling out her largest scraps of cardboard on the polished floors of her Christian private school, and from above she filmed herself, paint, skip drip and dance across the horizontal surface, marking her presence as she pleased. The beginning of a language that would seek to translate and transcend what lies at the heart of the artists emotions, no matter how crude the slender line or refined the vibrant splat, Guerard plays with the juxtapositions of the surface she operates, declaring her presence in a structure of overlapping layers. The artists desire to play with the material surface and develop an internal discourse begins to appear inside the process, a mark or movement soaked deep into the material surface of the network. Layers of colour become bold, dangerous stages for gestures to dance, and minimal fields made up of controversial materials become plains for repeating patterns and drawn shapes to flourish and tickle the areas of non-beauty.
Prawn Cocktail, Salade de fruits, Spinning Fields and the rest of her recent body reveal a unique examination into contemporary formalism, where the artists experimental disregard for visual flattery offers a beauty that dances to its own beat, creating a provocative debate and a staged act where the performative quality of the artists practice is allowed access to the foreground through a considered yet also a playfully disregarded curation. The initial markings and intent of the individual works are left on the doorstep, giving the artist further knowledge to develop her ever expanding lexicon. These works are curated as a conversation with us the spectator, Gerard’s recent painting history, and the more expanded history of formalist painting. In this introductory show we are given a VIP pass to indulge the visual senses as the artist and host sees fit, whilst the abstract expressionists and phantoms of formalist art are given little more than a cum rag, thrown directly into the long canon of scoffing faces, that once would have sat at the precipice of contemporary art. Prawn Cocktail for Guerard is a tamed beauty that marks, cuts, splats, dances, flares, punches, glides, shits, spits and tackles its way through any territory of material and choses to carefully slip off the shackles of its medium with every lesson learnt.
Writting by Tom Counihan – exhibition co-curated by Charlotte Guérard, Tom Cunihan, Ricky Grigss, William Butturick and Peter John.