On Friday evening I attended a private viewing of PROB(e)JECT, an exhibition of new works in paint by Sheffield artist foster-m at the Snig Hill Gallery in Sheffield (here). This is the third exhibition featuring paintings by foster-m that I’ve attended and yet this does nothing to diminish the impact that his work has when entering a room in which his large canvases are displayed. Gallery owner Oliver Dempsey has made use of every available space across two floors to display these forty unseen works, all of which dwarf the viewer in both scale and execution.
These are paintings which assault the senses, the feeling of disorientation is exhilarating. Each piece presents itself initially as a chaotic tangle which then quickly gains structural resolution with surgical precision. The canvasses are scored with meshes of paint, layer upon layer is applied to achieve a texture which makes you want to reach out and run your fingers over the strokes. Colour and geometry collide and connect. Human anatomy is a recurring figure running through the majority of these paintings. Naked bodies with distorted appendages are flayed of their skin, rib cages explode and spill out their contents, empty eye sockets and mouths gape at the viewer.
I visited foster-m in his studio last year prior to his first solo exhibition in preparation for an article I was writing but we ended up spending most of the time talking about a shared passion for music. The finished article was more about sound than art and I think foster was happy that it had turned out that way. Music resonates through his paintings like Marshall stacks.
But these are all just inadequate words and descriptions based on my own personal interpretations. When I sat down to write this piece, I promised myself that I wouldn’t let it get bogged down in unnecessary adjectives and metaphor but look what’s happened.
It’s difficult not to sound utterly pretentious or throw around meaningless, lazy clichés when discussing art on any level. I suppose this is an inherent problem with attempting to write about visual media though. The viewer looks for meaning, a back story, something that provides a connection of sorts. There is a powerful back story at work here and plenty of meaning behind each canvas but without experiencing the paintings, they are only words.
You need to see this exhibition for yourself, it’s truly that important.
PROB(e)JECT, an exhibition of new works in paint by foster-m is now open to the public and runs until the end of October.
The Snig Hill Gallery is at 24-26 Snig Hill in Sheffield, opening times are 10am – 3pm Tuesday to Saturday.