As long as Josh Raz continues to charm us, we’ll continue to write about him. After his excellent interview with Gary Mansfield – which came a week after he spoke on Soho Radio – we explore the HIX award winning artists’ hypothetical group show.
Raz picked five artists to stand alongside his own work in an ideal group show. Let’s start with Pierre Huyghe: a renowned french artist who has created time based situations and site-specific installations since the early 1990’s. Huyghe’s practice is all encompassing, he curates the entire environment in which his works are exhibited, these spaces often become immersive, ecological systems. Raz chose to host his exhibition in a space designed by Huyghe, so every work of art to follow must be imagined in an environment deeply linked to the natural world. If we take After ALife Ahead (2017) as an example, Huyghe transformed an abandoned, open-air ice rink into an inhospitable, craterous landscape that harbours pools of water filled with algae.
A series of early Freud portraits will hang in this space. The pinnacle of these slightly absurdist, unsettling paintings is the infamous self-portrait Man With a Feather (1943). The critic Robert Hughes once described Freud’s portrait of Francis Bacon as having “the silent intensity of a grenade in the millisecond before it goes off.” Man With a Feather has this same intensity, perhaps best encapsulated by the narrow dark holes that form the figures eyes, at once dehumanising and imbuing an eerie anxiety, they underpin the pieces ominous feeling.
Next we come to Nick Goss whose watery canvases are influenced by the North Sea flood of 1953 in Zeeland, as well as dystopian fiction such as JG Ballard’s ‘The Drowned World’. If we take Lay-by (2019) as an example, we see Goss’ atavistic artistic vision: a formerly built up environment in a state of decay, a flooded landscape from the window of an uber. Goss’ scenes defy a concrete resolution, instead they exist on the pessimistic fringes of memory and imagination.
Next we come to the installation work of Mika Rottenberg. Rottenberg likes to create films concerned with systems of production and commerce. For example, one of her notable works, No NoseKnows (2015), documents the Chinese pearl industry, empty housing developments, and the absurd gestures of the everyday, Rottenberg considers her piece a “diagram of our shrinking world.”
Finally we come to Julie Curtiss, whose surreal acrylic paintings grapple with notions of femininity and identity. These are illustrative, fantastical depictions of women, often placing the gaze behind the figure, detailing cartoonish interpretations of hair that take inspiration from 19th century French painting.