The Manicured Wild (Kristin Hjellegjerde Gallery)

Johnny Briggs and Evy Jokhova explore the gap where man and nature meet at Kristin Hjellegjerde Gallery

The Manicured Wild

Upon entering Kristin Hjellegjerde gallery, you are greeted with a large eye funnelling back into a forest scene.

Looking closer you can see that it is a layer of frames that overlay and interlay, creating a perplexing and picturesque portrait of a young boy.

The Manicured Wild

Jonny Briggs, Untitled, 2016

Walking further into the space, linoleum panels are transformed into an artistic and abstract rendering of stones which line the sides of the walls. In the centre, attached to a wooden trolley sits a giant boulder. This sculpture, called Sisypha, provides an element of performance art to this exhibition; each day it will be paraded up and down the High Street where the gallery is located. The piece speaks of the complicated issues of migration in our world today.

The artist, Evy Jokhova says that it is not just about the question of geographical migration, but refers “to all types of migration: economic, political, geographical, historical. Sisypha is simultaneously ‘home’ or ‘no place’ being carted around.” The piece references the Sisyphean task of Greek mythology, which is now used as a byword for endless, impossible labouring. The artist or creator has given the gallery – representing Sisyphus – the task of not only wheeling this big stone around but also the eternal mission of art dispersing culture across the globe.

The concept the show is centred on is the infinite and somewhat forlorn attempt of trying to “manicure the wild.” Johnny Briggs and Evy Jokhova explore the gap where man and nature meet in THE MANICURED WILD from July 20th to the 2nd of September. Both of these artists differ greatly in style and choice of medium but ideologically they are confronting many of the same paradoxes: man and nature, old and new. They are also speaking to the tendency of humankind to try and control the world around us, through manipulating the landscape or building on top of it. Man creates a reality intertwining his species with nature and the collection here suggestively posits that this in between space is where the artist’s work resides.

Many of Evy Jokhova’s pieces are made with a gap created by pieces of paralleled linoleum which have been transformed through texture and patterns to resemble different types of stone. This is juxtaposed with the architectural lines which illustrate Jokhova’s fascination with materiality ‘in relation to art and culture.”

One of the most stunning of these smaller linoleum works is ‘Sketch for Passing Through IV’. It is comprised of five of the linoleum pieces, hung on top of a muted grey tilted square which, despite being monochromatic, contains lines that resemble an architectural feature emblazoned with colour, giving them a prismatic effect. In her free standing sculpture work she creates totems and explores further the cultural significance of stones by looking at their historic and contemporary use as objects of sacristy and religion.

The Manicured Wild

E Jokhova. 2016. ‘Sketch for Passing Through IV’.

Jonny Briggs uses digitally manipulated photographs of nature and man that have been distorted by the artist so the space of constructed reality is visible. His ideology is perhaps more abstracted than Jokhova’s, in that Briggs’ work resides in a more ephemeral examination of this relationship. One of these aspects is his inquiry into the gaps of history of which we have little to no knowledge. Briggs says that he “notices how we may project into these gaps our fears or desires, generating stories that evolve into folklore blurring the boundaries between what is real and what is fantasy.”

This blurring of boundaries gives his pieces a surrealistic element, providing the viewer the sense of being in a dreamlike reality. ‘The Hanged Man’ and ‘The Pyramid’ both have a photograph of an eye in their centres which looks quite analogous to Salividor Dali’s ‘Eye with a View’; an oil painting of an eye painted on an easel and canvas with its edges blurred into the background of a beach.

The Manicured WIld

Jonny Briggs, Untitled Photography, 2016

Briggs’s work is much more fragmented and uses psychedelic colours to achieve a kaleidoscope effect. Like Dali’s work, his does seem to dwell in the dream world. Conceivably, this is the gap referred to earlier, which both artists are drawn to: the space where man and nature meet.

THE MANICURED WILD
July 20th – September 2nd
Kristin Hjellegjerde Gallery

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