Artweek International Artists' Plener exhibitions
The Artweek International Artists' Plener ('plener' is a Polish word for an arts workshop) brings together artists from France, Germany, Denmark, Czechoslovakia, Poland and Britain. And despite their widely differing cultural and political backgrounds, the exhibition at Bonn Square's Baptist Church reveals common currents.
Much of their work is preoccupied with the materiality of life, its basis in decay, corruption and waste. Just look at Sue Spark's incinerated, holocaust landscapes with broken glass and paper chain men pasted into the ordure. Jørgen Rud's heavily-worked, visceral abstracts, Cally Trench's skeletal, fossil traces, Jadwiga Sawicka's human figures isolated amid elemental scribble, or Roger Perkins' ominous shanty-town sculpture of carbonized timbers.
Yet no doubt because the artists have been at work in the surroundings of Sutton Courtenay Abbey, this profanity and defilement is coupled throughout with the sacred. We're reminded that our higher experience - religious or artistic - is a sublimation of lower, organic functions, that clean and unclean are interdependent. So Kerry Andrews' laminated panels of leaves and charcoal conceal the cloven-footed god Pan. And Stanislaw Koba's ideograms, like Ireneusz Bec's linocuts and incandescent canvases, reproduce sacred motifs, Christian and pagan alike.
Soiled and sublime - see it.
Paul Oldfield, 1991
First published in Oxford Times, 24th May 1991, and reproduced in Artweek International Artists' Plener Catalogue (1991).