Gary Webb and Magdalena Drwiega
19.07.19 – 08.09.19
HIX ART are pleased to present Tobacco and Salad, a multi-disciplinary exhibition featuring new collaborative artworks by artists Gary Webb and Magdalena Drwiega, including an interactive installation that visitors are invited to engage with.
Both artists have a playful approach to experimenting with form and shape; exploring and manipulating materiality. The central piece of the exhibition is a newly created monolithic sculptural installation which has never before been exhibited. Comprised of a central structure that the two artists have obsessively covered with repetitive charcoal markings, its architectural cantilevered platforms become plinths for smaller sculptures, almost like a 3D collage, in a state of flux it grows and changes as it is brought to life. Lined along the adjacent walls are photographic prints from different angles of this piece as installed in the space, as if in a mirror it contemplates its own existence.
Webb and Drweiga approach formal fine art education and exhibition theory with a spirited sense of whimsy. Questioning their own role as ‘artists’ they challenge preconceptions of materials and form, employing charcoal, one of the first mediums you are taught to use in life drawing classes; confidently using a strong palette of juxtaposing primary colours, turning colour theory on its head; reimagining the role of the plinth, and how it might become a part of the sculpture that it is intended to display; bold, painterly strokes of colour on the floor evoke calligraphy, though its graphic presence underfoot puts us off-kilter, making the viewer question their own place within the space and where one sits in relation to these unusual forms.
Many of the objects seem to sit within the unsettling familiarity of the uncanny valley, they become obscure – at the edge of recognition – as the artists toy with the viewer. The space becomes a sensory playground that we share with these alien beings, at once interacting with the industrial architecture of the gallery, and amongst themselves; they are offered their own large spaces to occupy and so become entities, living things that need space to breathe.
For the duration of the exhibition an interactive wall piece has been installed. Visitors are invited to make their own charcoal marks along the walls of the gallery space, and, as it matures with more additions, the markings will swell and obliterate the wall. Primitive, like cave paintings, these bold marks will form the backdrop of the sculptures when viewed from the entrance of the gallery and as it grows and changes so too will the relationships of the pieces to their surroundings.
The title, though open to interpretation as every piece in the exhibition is, derives from the gallery’s underground location beneath the iconic Tramshed restaurant, acknowledging and unifying the two spaces, as well as the industrial past of the local area. Tobacco and Salad summates our contradictory obsessions with both self-destruction and the tireless pursuit of self-improvement. It explores the balance and integrity of the exhibition as a coherent whole despite its seemingly disparate components; between the two makers, colour, shape and form there is visual harmony, stabilising an often rather mad world.
Gary Webb (born 1973 in Bascombe, Dorset) is a British artist who graduated from Goldsmiths College London, his work has been the subject of several solo exhibitions, notably at Le Consortium, Dijon in 2005 and deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum, Massachusetts, in the US in 2012, or more recently at the Bloomberg Space in London (2014). He also participated in the 2011 exhibition Modern British Sculpture at the Royal Academy of Arts in London.
Magdalena Drwiega (born 1971 in Sanok, Poland) is a contemporary artist based in London, represented by Belmacz Gallery. Graduating from Wimbledon College of Art with a BA and MA in Fine Art. Recent solo shows include: The Ashtray Show West, Belmacz, London (2018-19); The Last S**p, Belmacz, London (2013). Recent group shows include:Recreational Grounds III, Recreational Grounds, London (2018), Trimini Rising (with Stano Filko & Louisa Gardini), Belmacz, London 2018.