PRESS RELEASE: “Psychogeography”
Gallery 10G is pleased to announce the opening of “Psychogeography”, a 2-person show of new paintings by young British artists, (husband and wife), Peter Harrap & Natasha Kissell. The title of the show, “Psychogeography” was defined in 1955 by Guy Debord as the "the study of the precise laws and specific effects of the geographical environment, consciously organized or not, on the emotions and behavior of individuals. A more straightforward definition is "a slightly stuffy term that's been applied to a whole toy box full of playful, inventive strategies for exploring cities. Psychogeography includes just about anything that takes pedestrians off their predictable paths and jolts them into a new awareness of the urban landscape. Both Harrap and Kissell’s paintings do just that.
Harrap’s paintings show an urbanism where "function" ends and "play" begins resulting in a utopia where there is constant exploration, free of determining factors. The paintings show encounters and attractions of the urban terrain and the brief moments of psycho-geographical variations where people realize the calculation of their possibilities. In his paintings, Harrap would like to make an intensification of reality which takes hold of the sensations of what it is to be now. There is a kind of tyranny of choice which overtakes you in contemporary life and he would like these landscapes to show this sense of passionate boredom, where you have everything available and yet nothing you want. In Bella Donna, Harrap plays on the historical reference of women using Bella Donna, a poisonous plant in their pupils as an alluring eyedrop, thus drawing a parallel between beauty and poison, a theme he is interested in. This ‘poison’ is also shown in the way the figures might be in the same space but they are worlds apart from isolation in the city.
In, Infinite Finitude, Harrap depicted monstera plants in the background of his painting – thus insinuating that the monster is the city that looms in the background. The city shoots in and swirls within the monstera plant to give a feeling of infinite complexity which reflects the inner world and thoughts of the girl. The view is from high above giving you a nauseating sensation likened to that of being in the heights of the city. In Super 8, Harrap brings memory and events together. He shows how recording is necessary to experience but also nostalgic. Super 8, an old film medium, gives a distorted romantic sense of what we are. Paint can also distort and intensify in a visceral and physical way. The psychogeography is played out in super 8 with the spiraling and twisting of the meadow. The exploding daisies and sky emulate the internal worlds of the characters- the way encounters and sensations stay present in the memory in a film like way.
Kissell’s paintings use the landscape to trigger memories and associations. For her, placing modernist architecture in the landscape becomes a way of re-inventing the Landscape Tradition, infusing it with a new momentum, re-claiming what has been discarded. Like Harrap, Kissell is also interested in exploring perspective through the use of changing viewpoints. The result of this play in perspective is an image which at first seems real and believable, and then throws the viewer into a giddy confusion causing them to question the impossible views they see before them. Along with spectacular modernist buildings, her work depicts magical worlds that exist on another plain from reality. As seen in, Enchanted Wood, Kissell takes a humorous play with Philip Johnson's iconic house, 'The Glass House' which she has transplanted from its original Connecticut environment and put deep into a forest. Kissell displaced this image into a magical terrain where the heightened colors bring a hyper-real feel, full on intensity and richness.
Instead of Harrap's peopled places, the psycho-geography of Kissell’s paintings comes in the form of the landscapes- the buildings exist in creating a double utopia, the two in conversation with each other. As seen in, Pink Canyons, Kissell takes Mies Van Der Rohe's ‘Barcelona Pavilion’ to an Arizona canyon. The usual crowds of tourists that would swarm around Van Der Rohe's Barcelona Pavilion are emptied out, in a desire to allow the building to exist in tranquillity matched only by the sun gently going down in the Arizona outback. This also creates a surreal juxtaposition, two faraway places united in one canvas.
In, In the Treetops, Kissell has positioned her house high above the valley, perched on the cliff tops as if to defy gravity and become like a bird nestled in the trees, thus defying its materials of heavy concrete and steel to become light and weightless like an apparition in the heavens. Higher up in the mountains, traditionally in folklore the place of the gods and angelic beings, the building is almost more utopian, away from the grime and bustle of cities and chaos in its own little tranquil world.