Joseph Goddard

Artist

Artist website for Joseph Goddard.

Leeds based artist concerned with postwar architecture, sculpture, painting, photography, Brutalism.

Safety Zone: Fenghau Wang

The School of Design at University of Leeds plays host to Professor Fenghua Wang of Xi’an Academy of Fine Arts, China. As a painter Wang has exhibited globally in places such as Israel, Korea, Germany, Taiwan and although he has exhibited in group shows in the UK several times before this is his first time he has presented work in Yorkshire and is his first solo show here.

Wang is primarily concerned with the phenomena of urbanization taking place in China’s rural landscapes. It’s an issue that is catalysed by any growing economy and China’s rampant economic growth sees it as a country not just growing out of but diverging from a deeply rich past, one steeped in centuries of spirituality.

What is first noticeable about the scenes Wang depicts is the lack of human presence, conspicuous in its absence, his collection maps out a society distinctly depopulated. The subject matter of his works are nowhere-places, locations found on the peripheries of towns and cities, places on the cusp where bricks, mortar, steel and iron slowly encroach into the domain of nature with viral like purpose. The mundanity of these scenes attest to the futility of it all as lakes, rivers, forests and open fields, places of intrinsic beauty that allow for peacefulness and contemplation are sacrificed, given over to the whims of capitalist progress, but for what? Waste lands of debris, shanties built out of stone and the remnants of degraded industrial infrastructure? Wang’s paintings act as a diagnosis of the malignant and tumorous spread of urbanism, the emblematic consequences that every industrialised country still has to bear.

Painted with an air of sensitivity Wang manages to approach the subject matter with a sense of calm, his paintings demonstrate a touch born of fragility, it is his greatest achievement and endows his work with the power to illicit a rarefied opportunity for contemplation. Maybe it’s the stillness of his work that offers the time to stop, to breathe and time to consider the implications of losing rural space; the safety zones that allow for reflection, away from the relentless march of asbestos tinged progress.

Wang’s paintings succeed in bridging the expansive distance between Xi’an and Leeds, cities that are divided by a geographical and cultural gulf, two distant lands now unified by Wang’s thematics. Safety Zone encourages us to see the very same issues that lie in the heart of our society as a city and as a country. It makes one wonder about the past that was down trodden by Leeds’ industrial progress, it begs the question what was lost and for what gain? The work on display at Leeds University feels like the quiet lamentation of the inevitable subsidence of the past.

So Xi’an, like Leeds, and like every other industrialised society, are characterised by the aspiration to create an environment that is not just divorced from the natural world but one that transcends it. However, faced with the impossibility of such an endeavour our societies choose to simply carpet over the natural world with concrete and rubble.

Safety Zone: Fenghua Wang

Foyer Gallery, Clothworkers Building Central, Leeds

April 16th, 2018 — May 8th, 2018

https://www.design.leeds.ac.uk/events/safety-zone-fenghua-wang

Apocalypse Soon

I was invited by Jill Stewart to write a guest blog for her website about my work exhibited at Arts Depot, London. Jill is an author, editor, lecturer and photographer and her work has many overlapping themes with the concept in my work. You can read my contribution here: 

http://www.jillstewarthousing.co.uk/guest-blog-apocalypse-soon/

John Moores Prize Winners, Liverpool.

The John Moores Painting prize was established in 1957 and has been a mainstay on the British art scene ever since. Held at the Walker Street Gallery, Liverpool, every 2 years, it coincides with The Liverpool Biennale, providing emerging and established artists with a platform for national and international recognition. On display are a selection of prize winning paintings spanning 60 years’ worth of competition.

Art competitions have become a hugely popular trend of late, not just with galleries but with magazines and websites and the far reach of the internet means the growing number of competitions are even more visible. With the whole concept nearing saturation point, the validity and significance of such competitions is something to be considered. However, John Moores Painting Prize has the history and pedigree to separate it from the younglings of the competition trend. With previous winners including David Hockney, Mary Martin and Peter Blake, John Moores Prize Winners is demonstratively a programme intended to showcase contemporary painting at its best and arguably at its purest; street art, urban art, the current tends of social media driven art aesthetics is notable only for its omission. The work on display is distinctly institutional art; made for gallery spaces, championed by the establishment and more importantly exhibited to be subjected to considerable analysis. It is a collection of works that help chart the key moments of British painting over the last several decades, abstraction, realism, colour field and figurative artworks sit side by side acting as an archival testament to post-war British painting.

In comparison to the actual competition, John Moores prizewinners has a perceptible different tone. Whereas the competition can often feel giddy with eclecticism John Moores prizewinners has a more matter of fact quality, prosaic in its sense of self-assurance. Highlights of the show include Lisa Milroy’s ‘Handles’, 1989 a work which seems defiant and authoritative in its methodical rigour. Rose Wylie ‘PVC Windows and Floorboards’, 2014 adds a sense of fun and energy to the show, with its lively use of colour and shape it is instantly endearing in its playfulness.

Taking in John Moores prizewinners as a retrospective allows the viewer a certain distancing form the progress of recent British painting. As a snap shot of contemporary painting it is hard not to view John Moores as a prognosticator for the most significant contributors to the art world. A possible marker for this and standout of the show is Peter Doigs ‘The Blotter’, 1998. Doig was the recipient of the award in 1993 before receiving the Turner Prize a year later. Doig’s work sets itself apart from his peers at the time by not falling into the brash headline grabbing sensationalism of the Young British Art movement. Blotter illustrates perfectly what most of his work achieves, a sense of solemn isolation, a quality of quietness and deep contemplation. It elicits a sensation with which to frame the show, a mind state which the show deserves, one of deliberate regard.

The John Moores Painting prize was established in 1957 and has been a mainstay on the British art scene ever since. Held at the Walker Street Gallery, Liverpool, every 2 years, it coincides with The Liverpool Biennale, providing emerging and established artists with a platform for national and international recognition. On display are a selection of prize winning paintings spanning 60 years’ worth of competition.

Art competitions have become a hugely popular trend of late, not just with galleries but with magazines and websites and the far reach of the internet means the growing number of competitions are even more visible. With the whole concept nearing saturation point, the validity and significance of such competitions is something to be considered. However, John Moores Painting Prize has the history and pedigree to separate it from the younglings of the competition trend. With previous winners including David Hockney, Mary Martin and Peter Blake, John Moores Prize Winners is demonstratively a programme intended to showcase contemporary painting at its best and arguably at its purest; street art, urban art, the current tends of social media driven art aesthetics is notable only for its omission. The work on display is distinctly institutional art; made for gallery spaces, championed by the establishment and more importantly exhibited to be subjected to considerable analysis. It is a collection of works that help chart the key moments of British painting over the last several decades, abstraction, realism, colour field and figurative artworks sit side by side acting as an archival testament to post-war British painting.

In comparison to the actual competition, John Moores prizewinners has a perceptible different tone. Whereas the competition can often feel giddy with eclecticism John Moores prizewinners has a more matter of fact quality, prosaic in its sense of self-assurance. Highlights of the show include Lisa Milroy’s ‘Handles’, 1989 a work which seems defiant and authoritative in its methodical rigour. Rose Wylie ‘PVC Windows and Floorboards’, 2014 adds a sense of fun and energy to the show, with its lively use of colour and shape it is instantly endearing in its playfulness.

Taking in John Moores prizewinners as a retrospective allows the viewer a certain distancing form the progress of recent British painting. As a snap shot of contemporary painting it is hard not to view John Moores as a prognosticator for the most significant contributors to the art world. A possible marker for this and standout of the show is Peter Doigs ‘The Blotter’, 1998. Doig was the recipient of the award in 1993 before receiving the Turner Prize a year later. Doig’s work sets itself apart from his peers at the time by not falling into the brash headline grabbing sensationalism of the Young British Art movement. Blotter illustrates perfectly what most of his work achieves, a sense of solemn isolation, a quality of quietness and deep contemplation. It elicits a sensation with which to frame the show, a mind state which the show deserves, one of deliberate regard.

 

 

Blindeye

I wrote this review of Blindeye, an exhibition held at Ladybeck, Leeds back in November. I've only just got round to posting it now:

The doors are now closed, the lights are out, the show is over and the dust has settled, just. Blindeye “A contemporary art exhibition bringing together a broad collection of talented and conscious young artists, expressing their feelings of unjust, frustration and struggle” was a pop-up art show curated by Dave Guest, held at Lady Beck, Leeds, 18 November, 2017. At the time of writing this, it’s a day later.

Lady Beck is situated in Mabgate, an inner city area characterized by red brick facades of warehouses and looming tower blocks. It’s evocative of artist run spaces of 1960’s New York or the alternative spaces of 1990’s London. Such spaces are fertile grounds for unrepresented and emerging artists working outside of established galleries. Some of these spaces and the artists that once populated them have since become a part of the establishment but the independent art space still endures in many cities and has become a mainstay in contemporary art. Lady Beck is one such space, it’s an unsung hero of the Leeds art scene, hidden amongst the industrial outskirts of the city it has been consistent in showcasing the best in contemporary fringe art.

The history of the alternative art space is present in Blindeye, it’s hard to view the show without being cognisant of its legacies. The show is distinguished by the stylistic breadth on display, consisting of 15 artists whom are individualistic in aesthetic, medium and voice. There is little, if anything connecting the pieces, each occupying its own space, each creating its own conceptual significance and as such the exhibition takes on the quality of Language Poetry; an avant-garde movement that challenged the orthodoxies of writing, abandoning narrative and form in favour of a fragmentary non-arrangement. It makes it difficult to pick out any one work which could embody the totality of the show but a few pieces rise to prominence –

‘Camera Phone’ (2017) by Mr Carrot Boy is a sculptural amalgamation of defunct digital technologies; old cameras, phones and watches have been pieced together as a comment on the absurdity of technology’s insistence to carve out its own niche of functionality. The piece is suspended inches above a plinth as a nod towards the impermanence of technology, it’s perpetual evolution denying the ability to scrutinise its value.  

‘Four Lizards’ (2017) by Dom White is in a way reminiscent of ‘Dance’ (1910) by Henry Matisse, it depicts four humanoid lizards, clad in business attire dancing with ritualist glee. It sits beside an untitled work by Hole93 which depicts an asteroid impact or a nuclear strike, under which a cockroach stands with indifference. There is a cold blooded relationship between the two which may be unintentional but it creates an ambiguous dialogue not shared amongst the other works. The lizard people dance as if in celebration of the event, distant survivors or even perpetrators, either way the two pieces’ point towards some kind of Armageddon which is devoid of human presence.

‘Can You Hear Me/Can You See Me’ (2017 - ongoing) by William Noel Clarke is a work of embroided cloth hung central in the space, it’s comprises of a series of repeated questions directed at prominent curators, writers and artists; “Lisa Le Feurve can you hear me?” “Lucy R Lippard can you see me?”

The show is less pop-up as it is hit-and-run, the scope of it dizzying and the brevity of it exhilarating. Though the show is fragmentary it is so to its credit. It coalesces to embody the disparate and disconnected experience of contemporary life, unified by the sense of being on the outside unable to enact affect. The hope for shows and spaces like this is that ideas take root, artists forge pathways and the event stakes a claim in the story of art. It may go unseen or unheard of by the likes of Hans Ulrich Obrist but it has its place in Leeds, it adds to the story and it enriches the city.

Blindeye, Lady Beck, Leeds, 18 November, 2017

https://www.facebook.com/events/1583312095069771/

Structure of Collapse

Following my first solo exhibition at Artsdepot, London 2017 I was asked to write a blog post for Jill Stewart - author of several books related to housing, architecture and social issues. My post entitled  can be found by clicking here. Jill is a incredibly talented writer and the prescience of her research should not be underestimated.

Hope you enjoy.  

Now It Begins

I've decided to start up a blog for my web site as a means of documenting my progress as an artist. It's probably something I should have done from the very beginning as there are many good reasons for doings so. I'm planning posting about upcoming exhibitions, progress in making new works, sharing my thoughts on the art shows I attend and maybe even commenting on current events (...maybe). I have considered back dating the blog to chart the several shows I have taken part in but think it would probably be  better to just pick things up from the present.

So - at present I am gearing up for a solo show at Arts Depot in London! Considering I have only had this site for approximately 18 months and I have only been pushing my work publicly for the same amount of time it feels like a huge achievement. Writing about this makes me realize how implausible the situation seems so here's a little context; I answered a call for submissions in the summer of 2016 and was lucky enough to be asked to interview. I proposed to show my sculptural series 'Structure of Collapse', in fact I think this was only the second call I submitted this work for which made it even more surprising when I was excepted. Like with most gallery space's their calendar was booked up so I was given a slot in October 2017 - 22nd 28th.

The work itself is now complete so at present I'm just working out a few technical details such as lighting and plinths. Having guaranteed a professional venue to showcase 30 sculptures in a solo show I decided to hold on to these sculptures and not exhibit them anywhere else until after the event. This strange set of circumstances afforded me the opportunity work on other projects over the past 12 months, works from which have been in a number of exhibitions and printed in various publications.  

If all goes according to plan, which I'm confident it will, the next post will include more details about the Arts Depot show and insights into the experience of exhibiting a solo show.