QUEER TEXTURES

4th - 6th November 2022

 

Hosted by PINK

at The Manchester Contemporary 

ft works by Simon Bayliss, Kevin Hunt, Dean Knight & Andrew Mania

Photo Credit: Cinthia Baseler

For the Manchester Contemporary 2022, PINK is delighted to present Queer Textures, bringing together four UK artists whose focus on material texture and visual tactility speaks to contemporary debates around queer identity and practice. Occupying a fluid space between sculpture, painting, print, stoneware and ceramics, Queer Textures presents an ensemble of works that employ various traditional materials and techniques to reveal and subvert complex objects and ideas.

 

Queer Textures unfolds in an installation of works sharing material qualities, histories and expectations - resulting in a number of explicit, tacit, textural and often humorous visual vocabularies and material intimacies. Dressed in a Royal blue fabric, the art fair booth will be transformed into a staged monochromatic environment - offering an immersive, boundless space for a plurality of ideas, material sensibilities and a diverse visual polari to play out.

 

Within the installation are a range of functional ceramics by artist-potter Simon Bayliss, who is based in St Ives, Cornwall. The works, all made on the potters’ wheel are energetically decorated with vividly coloured slips (a form of liquid clay) and clear glazes. Bayliss’ position as an artist-potter is grounded in a  background in painting and his ongoing research into the artistic legacies of St Ives and the wider South West. Bayliss is both highly influenced by and critical of the school of studio ceramics advocated by Bernard Leach and his wider circle with the artist using colour, humour and references to place as a way to ‘queer’ this legacy and claim his own place within St Ives’ art history.

 

Dean Knight, a multimedia artist based in Truro, Cornwall, presents a selection of ceramics, paintings and prints that are at once  primitive,  comedic,  seductive and  grotesque. With a self-conscious,  tongue-in-cheek take on the  obsessive and objectifying ‘male artist’, Knight explores the role of the gay man as a clown or peripheral deviant. Within Knight’s work utopian languages of Modernism and Minimalism are both revered and disrupted, with forms  pushed to exaggeration and cartoonishly simplified. Utilising an array of cultural symbols including cigarettes, food, clothing and pseudo-relics, his sculptural objects  become ambiguous, fetishised and interchangeable. 

 

For this year’s fair, Kevin Hunt will be presenting a new body of work, shown for the first time since (lowkey), his major solo exhibition at KARST, Plymouth in August 2022.  

 

Pairs of almost alike, wall-based objects from the series COUNSEL (set in stone), each with  subtly different configurations of curved, rippled forms atop of blocky bases, are informed by the many undulating ornamentations on the façades of Plymouth’s modernist city centre that often go unnoticed.  Formed by overheating plastic until its surface blisters, these twinned works feel like the Portland Stone or concrete architecture that they mimic. Another series of wall-based sculptures - (CIVIC (bump/grind) - made using former COVID protective screens, show the tension of their making more explicitly. Placed under extreme heat and pressure until the plastic became volatile, these semi-transparent sculptures address the trauma of the pandemic head on with their permanently cracked and irreversibly shattered surfaces.

 

Based in Salford/Manchester, but growing up in Speke - a satellite council estate on the edge of Liverpool - these new works are all rooted in Hunt’s lived experiences and interactions within municipal post-war architecture, explored from the artist’s queer, working class perspective. A fascination with the clandestine curvatures that adorn many post-war, civic buildings has become an important way for the artist to understand his own sexual identity, similarly hidden during his formative years living within the blocky, ‘straight’ architectual conformity of a council estate. 

 

Alongside Simon, Dean and Kevin’s works are a series of drawings by Andrew Mania, a Bristol-based artist who explores identity, sexuality and nostalgia through portraiture; drawing portraits that mostly come from an encounter with someone. Observing from life, or taking photos to work from, Mania makes detailed slowly rendered colour drawings on wood - a medium that evokes skin and touch. Mania touches on identity politics to make visible tender poetic representations through portraits of his encounters evoking a sense of longing and desire.

 

Mania’s drawings of handsome youths are reminiscent of both Caravaggio’s early works and more modern, psychedelic imagery. His subjects appear as icons of some fictive era, suffused with dandyism and hedonism, whilst possessing an uncanny darkness: an unsettling gloom that filters their flippant references to art history. Adorned with found frames, they acquire an object-like quality, ripe with nostalgia. Mania affiliates with the recent group called 'New Queer Intimism’, an emerging movement in painting depicts everyday queer life with striking intimacy.