CONGRATULATIONS ON YOUR UGLY HANDWRITING
Curated by Rosanna McLaughlin & Marco Palmieri
A signature is always a snitch. Every flourish or blemish, whether rehearsed or unintentional, betrays a profile, a posture, a behavioural trait. I scrawl my signature now:
Two wavy lines, fluctuating dramatically and then flatlining, the whole affair containing only the faintest trace of an ‘R’ and an ‘M’. This new incarnation is the product of a looser grip, a holding on, but only just.
“To speak of style” wrote Sontag, “is one way of speaking about the totality of a work of art. Like all discourses about totalities, talk of style must rely on metaphors.” Style, then, is not an outer shell, but a spine dissolved throughout. Style is the quality which animates, producing a particular network of sensibilities; it is the body in the line, present in every action, whether squeeze, copy, smudge (or lack of).
This exhibition brings together a cast of-object characters: artworks in which the idiosyncrasies, habits and desires of the hand have been nurtured, so that they exist on the cusp of portraiture. Faces melt into torn and lumpen clay; marks and scrawls are isolated, then mutate; ticks and traits are foregrounded; personality is evidence left behind.
The title of the show is taken from a poem by Rene Daniëls, in which a body is stripped and then dressed again, within the continual rhythm of sentences and images building up and breaking down. Ugliness, here, is a lauded state between collapse and cultivation. The attitude of Daniëls’ approach, in which the tools and markers of communication are always upended by their visual presence, is a bright scrawl on the horizon of this show.
(text by Rosanna McLaughlin)