Hope and Despair

Curated by Bob Matthews
3 Nov 2007 to 2 Dec 2007

Hope and Despair is an exhibition that takes as its starting point the notion that all artists have the capacity to be hopeful and that this inherent attitude is often counter to the subjects, ideologies, understandings and materials that artists are drawn to, as well as the very real and dramatic context in which art is made.

The works within this exhibition have been chosen because of their relationship to this ambiguity. Whilst some works deal directly with notions of hopefulness, exuding a spirit of general positivity or worth, others are tinged with doubt and even propose a bleak future. Some works seem to champion past artistic movements and ideologies, adopting the aspirational strategies of a previous generation, perhaps in the hope of continuing the inquiry. Other works reflect upon current ideas of experimental and communal living and notions of political and social change. Other works deal more directly with an attitude towards materials and making, where formal investigations have the potential for re-growth.

Alexandra Bircken's sculptures combine found objects from nature, such as branches and stones, with wool, plastic, wax, and concrete to form works that are both delicate and sturdy. Often the works evoke aspects of both natural and urban landscapes, perplexing the viewer with the arcane correlations between materials and their abstract referents, as well as teasing out the internal tensions of an object made of discontinuous media. 

Recent exhibitions include: Holz, Gladstone Gallery, New York (2007), Statements, Art Basel 37 (Herald St) (2007), Kunstverein Braunschweig, Germany (2007), Klotze, BQ, Cologne (2006), Centre d'art Mira Phalaina, Montreuil, France (2007), Galerie Christine Mayer, Munich (2006), Herald St, london (2005), Westfälischer Kunstverein, Münster (2005), Group Show, Interim Art, London (2005) Alexandra Bircken lives and works in Cologne.

Oliver Croy & Oliver Elser's film Counter-Communities (2003) is a documentary film about five alternative architecture projects in the USA that all share common origins to the 'Utopian tendencies' of the 1960s/70s. This project looks directly at 'idealistic' impulses and is exemplified within Buckminster-Fuller's Dome Village, which provides accommodation for the homeless in Downtown Los Angeles.

Recent exhibitions include (Oliver Croy): Happy Believers 7. Werkleitz Biennale, Halle (Saale) (2007), Not Sheep: New Urban Enclosures and Commons, Artspeak, Vancouver, Canada (2007) The built, the unbuilt and the unbuildable, Institute for Contemporary Art, Copenhagen, Sondermodelle, Inax Gallery, Nagoya, Japan (2004), Three fireplaces and two bathtubs at the MAK-Schindlerhouse, Los Angeles (2003). Oliver Croy lives and works in Berlin. Oliver Elser is an architect based in Berlin.

Jacob Dahl Jurgensen's works pose as fictive relics, the possible artefacts of a future archaeology unearthing the ethnological debris of today. Influenced by early 20th century Modernism, Jurgensen often quotes from art history: intertwining recognisable forms and ideologies with fragments of popular culture to create ritualistic monuments divining a contemporary spirituality.

Recent exhibitions include: A Tragical History, Croy Nielsen, Berlin (2007), Wilkinson Gallery, London (2007), Group Exhibition, Galerie Rüdiger Schöttle, Munich (2007) Group Exhibition, Foxy Production, New York (2006), Deep into that darkness peering, Galerie Kamm, Berlin (2006), Relations, Galerie Kamm, Berlin (2005) 

Jacob Dahl Jurgensen lives and works in London.

Kaye Donachie's paintings utilize found film footage of counterculture groups where rebellious and revolutionary activities become the source material to investigate group dynamics and power structures. Donachie considers painting an appropriate medium through which to probe radical beliefs and their paradoxes. Her interest lies in manipulating cultural references that have, over time, become embedded in our collective consciousness.

Recent exhibitions include: At Home, Yvon Lambert, New York (2007), If Everybody had an Ocean: Brian Wilson: An Art Exhibition, Tate St Ives (and touring) (2007), Very Abstract and Hyper Figurative, Thomas Dane Gallery, London, Tate Triennial, Tate Britain (2006), Maureen Paley Interim Art, London (2005, 2004, 1998) Artists Space, New York (2004), Peres Projects, Los Angeles (2005). Ideal Worlds, Kunsthalle, Frankfurt (2005) Kaye Donachie lives and works in London.

Katy Dove's works in both painting and flim evoke the early 20th-century abstract paintings and the films of Viking Eggeling, Oskar Fischinger and Len Lye. The paintings on show here demonstrate the apparent optimism within mesmeric compositions and forms.

Recent exhibitions include: Solo Exhibition, Talbot Rice Gallery, Edinburgh (2006), Solo Exhibition, Sies and Hoke Gallerie, Dusseldorf (2005), Artist Statements, Basel (2005) , Solo Exhibition, The Pump House Gallery, London (2005), Obstractivist - Group Exhibition - Hales Gallery, London (2004), Art Now , Lightbox - Tate Britain , 3 week screening (2003), Venice Biennale 2003 - Zenomap (Scotland) - screening (2003). 

Katy Dove Lives and works in Glasgow.

Chris Duncan's laboriously rendered works on paper reflect a preoccupation with process and transformation, and deals with the essentials of form and structure. This artistic activity creates ephemeral moments which champion the transient nature of human existence. Duncan pursues the visible threads between nature, science, and spirituality by reduction of image and ideas into forms of energy.

Recent exhibitions include: The Beginning. The Middle. The End., Gregory Lind Gallery, San Francisco, (2007), Distinctive Messengers, 489 Broome Street, New York (2007), Close Calls, Headlands Center for the Arts, Sausalito, CA (2007), The Continued Exploitation of Pink and Brown, Jeff Bailey Gallery, New York (2006), The Playing Field, Nakaochiai Gallery, Tokyo, Japan (2006), Dark Times, Motel Gallery, Portland, OR (2006), ZusammenKunst, Galerie Hafemann, Wiesbaden, Germany (2006), Kults, Werewolves and Sarcastic Hippies, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco (2005) 

Chris Duncan lives and works in Oakland, California.

Peter Fillingham & Charlotte Moth's collaborative sculpture utilizes found objects of domestic use to perform a celebratory function within the gallery space. Construction is at the heart of this venture and various craft-forms are evoked.

Recent exhibitions include: (Peter Fillingham) 13, International Project Space, Birmingham (2007), Citadel 1: Front Room/Killing Room, David Risley Gallery, London (2007), The Museum of Christmas, Sadlers Wells, London (2006), Beauty and the Beast, Fieldgate Gallery, London (2006), The Museum of Christmas, Rachmaninoff's, London (2005), The last Eleven Years, Kings Wood, Stour Valley Arts (2005), Untitled 2004, The Economist, London, 6th Sharjah International Biennial, Sharjah (2003)

(Charlotte Moth) Citadel 1: Front Room/Killing Room, David Risley Gallery, London (2007), The film as a page of hugo rewritten in the style of nerval, Jet, Berlin (2007), The first Antechamber, Project Arts Centre, Dublin (2007), Spheres, Man Museum, Liverpool (2005) 

Peter Fillingham and Charlotte Moth both live and work in Paris.

Mark Harris's often-detailed drawings work over the top of appropriated imagery to construct new and often aggressive narratives and interpretations. Elaborate architectural models fuse with fibrous organic matter and beckon a possible disastrous future.

Recent exhibitions include: World Gone Mad, Herbert Read Gallery (National touring exhibition) (2006), Clutterin' Colours, Roamin in Limbo, Keith Talent Gallery, London (2005), New Monastery, St Pauls Gallery, London (2005), Tube-way Army, Keith Talent Gallery, London (2004), 17 Reasons, Public Art Project, Jack Hanley Gallery, San Francisco (2003), Taking Speed, 1000000mph, project space, London (2003), Turpentine, Studio Voltaire, London (2003), The Vernacular Inscription, The Nickles Art Museum, Calgary, Canada (2002), Land, Artsway, Sway (2002), To Be Continued., Walsall New Art Gallery, Walsall (2000) 

Mark Harris lives and works in London.

Lucy Harrison's recent projects have involved specific communities and sites where collaborations, interventions and activities have forged links and opened new possibilities for contrasting audiences and groups. The work for this exhibition is from archive material and shows the artist when she was 8 years old posing for a protest image against the activities at Greenham Common.

Recent exhibitions include: Beacon Art Project, Mablethorpe, Lincolnshire (2007), 'Canvey Guides' as part of Art U Need; an Outdoor Revolution. Public art commission on Canvey Island, Essex managed by Commissions East (2007), O Dreamland, Greatstone, Kent; Transition Gallery / Club Shepway (2007), Paulo Post Futurum, Museum of Breda / Lokaal 01, Breda, Netherlands (2007), Beverli Ils; Someone Had a Real Problem, Zelle Arte Contemporanea, Palermo, Sicily (2007), Tres Riches Heures, Lokaal 01, Breda, Le BLAC, Brussels & Keith Talent Gallery, London (2006) 

Lucy Harrison lives and works in London.

Ian Hunt is a writer on art and a poet. His contribution to this exhibition is a text that reflects on the themes and issues surrounding hopefulness. 

Ian Hunt lives and works in London.

Dani Jakob's work evokes a multitude of styles and cultural references including German Romanticism, esotericism, Hip-Hop, Heavy Metal and Far-Eastern as well as Western genres of cultural history. The ironic, forthright mixture of signs and symbols fragments the viewer's perspective into a myriad of meaningful possibilities, further emphasized by the unusual choice of material.

Recent exhibitions include: Statements, with Vilma Gold, Art Basel (2007), L'homme nu, Sorcha Dallas, Glasgow (2007), Halfway to Heaven, Vilma Gold, London (2006), 4th Berlin Biennale (2006), Paradise opens now, Halle für Kunst, Lüneburg, Germany (2005), Les sept doigts de la main, Kunsthaus Baselland, Basel (2004), Her Kind, The Approach, London (2004), Entrer dans la lumière, Meyer Riegger, Karlsruhe, Germany (2003), Dani Jakob lives and works in Berlin.

Bob Matthews' paintings and sculptures reflect upon recent visits to communes in Germany. Reworking utopian motifs such as the hanging mobile, and considering the kaleidoscopic properties of various transparent materials he creates openly optimistic and well-meaning artworks that relate to eachother. This ongoing project is drawn to the possibility that the right arrangement of inanimate objects may have the possibility to cause change.

Recent exhibitions include: Layer Cake, Fabio Tiboni Arte Contemporanea, Bologna, Italy (2007), World-Gone-Mad, Herbert Read Gallery and touring (2006), Les Marveilles du Monde, Museum of Fine Art in Dunkerque, France (2005), This Show is Ribbed for her pleasure, Cynthia Broan Gallery, New York (2005), Songs to teach your children, Gregory Lind Gallery, San Francisco (2004), There is another world, Domo Baal, London (2004), Yes! I am a long way from home, The Nunnery, London, Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art and touring (2003), Cabins and other difficulties, Gregory Lind Gallery, San Francisco (2002) 

Bob Matthews lives and works in London.

Jan Peters' films are personal explorations and over many years have documented and charted his personal feelings about society and culture. He makes films in a fast-talking diary documentary style alternating gently between fact and fiction, comedy and tragedy. His work features anecdotes about his immediate circle of friends commenting on the multicultural and historical realities of everyday life. This exhibition includes his film Wie ich ein Höhlenmaler wurde (How I became a cave painter).

Recent exhibitions include: Follow me, I am lost , Centre d´art contemporain Chapelle Saint-Jacques, Saint Gaudens/France (2004), Ausland, Domo Baal, London (2003), Traversees, Palais de Tokyo, Paris, curated by Hans-Ulrich Obrist (2002) 

Jan Peters lives and works in Geneva, Hamburg and Berlin.

James Rielly's works on paper depict quietly intense memories of childhood. Thinly veiled washes of paint on thick handmade paper create a mood of tactility and sensitivity that can be in stark contrast to the darker, more brooding subjects that underlie the apparently latent imagery.

Recent exhibitions include: Beyond Differences, Galleria in Arco, Torino (2007), Tell us a story, Galleria Ramis Parquet Chelsea, New York (2006), Life of Rielly, World Gone Mad, Herbert Read Gallery and touring (2006), Timothy Taylor Gallery, London, UK (2005), Made in East London, Galeria DV, San Sebastián, Spain (2004), Late and Early, a split-site installation at the Round Room, Talbot Rice Gallery, Edinburgh and Timothy Taylor Gallery, London, (2003) 

James Rielly lives and works in France.

Karin Ruggaber's wall based sculptures use unpredictable casting processes in combination with natural and artificial materials to create subtle variations in texture and colour tone. These complex collage-like constructions come from an interest in architectural facades where erosion and incongruity of surface can open up subtle formal relationships.

Recent exhibitions include: East International, Norwich Gallery (2007), From Hard to Soft: Art Now, Tate Britain (2006), mega-süper military style, greengrassi, London (2005), The Way We Work Now, Camden Arts Centre, London (2005), Present Future, greengrassi, Artissima 11, Turin, Italy (2004), US work and men's shirts, greengrassi, London (2003), René Daniëls and Karin Ruggaber, Bloomberg SPACE, London (2002) 

Karin Ruggaber lives and works in London.

Michael Samuels' sculptures utilizing everyday furniture are built through an initial process of deconstruction and then meticulous reconstruction to achieve new and various architectural, formal and playful sites. A Lilliputian relationship to scale combined with nostalgic recycling opens up the potential for re-growth.

Recent exhibitions include: Idylle, Phoenix-Hall Hamburg, DA 2 Domus Artium Salamanca, the National Gallery Prague and Kunstlerhaus, Vienna (2006), Lost and Safe, Rokeby, London (2006), The Real Ideal, Sheffield Millenium Gallery, Sheffield (2005), Making Journeys, Djanolgy Art Gallery, Nottingham (2005), Indoor Type, Architectural Association, London (2004) 

Michael Samuels lives and works in London.

Silke Schatz's drawings, collages and sculptures reflect her interest in architecture as both a public and private space. Recent work is informed and inspired by the German artist and teacher Ewald Mataré whose utopian public artworks and sculptures evoke a period of pure celebration within the cultural life of a city. Schatz's work for this exhibition takes this connection further by combining Mataré's work within exuberant collages, prints and sculptures.

Recent exhibitions include: Private / Public, Wilkinson Gallery, London (2006), Radical Self-Wurzlekind, Bomann - Museum Celle und Kunstverein Celle, Germany (2006), Archipienture: Painters Bulid Architecture, Le Plateau, Paris and Camden Arts Centre, London (2006), Terezin, Meyer Riegger Gallery, Karlsruhe, Germany (2005), Terezin, Kunstverein und Stiftung Springhornhof, Neuenkirchen (2005), Kunstverein & Stiftung Springhornhof, Neuenkirchen (2005), Manifesta 5, San Sebastian, Spain (2004), The Kleinfamilie, Wilkinson Gallery, London (2003) 

Silke Schatz lives and works in Cologne.

Martina Schmid's recent paintings evolve from an initial mark-making process that responds directly to formal impulses where the selection of palette tones is gleamed from various personal sources. The structures within the paintings evoke the spirit of Modernist ideology and the apparent aging of the surface mimics the remnants of historic works such as weathered murals.

Recent exhibitions include: Martina Schmid and Peter Boué, Frise, Hamburg (2005), Ausland, Domo Baal, London (2003), Yes! I am a long way from home, The Nunnery, London and touring (2003), Mostyn 13, Oriel Mostyn Gallery (2003). Pizza Express Art Prospects, London (2003), Express, Royal College of Art (2003), Jerwood Drawing Prize, (2002), Land or Reason, Domo Baal (2001) 

Martina Schmid lives and works in London.

Barry Thompson's makes intricate and densely worked pencil drawings that depict images of idyllic landscapes.  Although composed from personal memories of a childhood hideaway in suburban Essex, the scenes are somewhat generic, and act as visual triggers for the romantic ideals we all project on the natural world.

Recent exhibitions include: Salon Nouveau, Engholm Engelhorn Galerie, Vienna (2007), To forgotten faces and faded loves, Rachmaninoff's (2006), Into the Light of Things, Angel Row Gallery, Nottingham (2006), Jerusalem, Dean Clough, Halifax (2006), For Peel, No More Grey Gallery, London (2006), Finkish Dispositions, Rachmaninoff's, London (2005) 

Barry Thompson lives and works in London

Mark Titchner's art explores the tensions between the different belief systems that inform society, be they religious, scientific or political. Presenting conflicting ideologies and outmoded ideas without mockery or cynicism he allows the viewer to form their own conclusions. In so doing, his works questions both our blind faith in science and our obedience to authority.

Recent exhibitions include: The Eye Don't See Itself, Vilma Gold, London (2007), Vertigo: Marcel Duchamp and Mark Titchner, Chelsea Space, Chelsea College of Art and Design, London (2007), A Poem about an Inland Sea 52nd Venice Biennale, Ukraine Pavillion (2007), Turner Prize, Tate Britain, London (2006), IT IS YOU, Arnolfini, Bristol (2006), Behold the Man, Waiting For the Man, Peres Projects, Los Angeles (2005), When We Build Let Us Think That We Build Forever, Vilma Gold project space, Berlin (2005) 

Mark Titchner lives and works in London.

Julian Wakelin's paintings are both heavily worked and playfully spontaneous in equal measure. Through a combination of subtle layering and gestural flare the paintings evoke the early heydays of expressive abstraction, yet on closer inspection his work reveals and questions the extent to which the activity of painting itself has become self-referential, where the final spirit of painting, the act itself, has now become paramount.

Recent exhibitions include: Departure Lounge, Terrace, London (2007), John Moores 24, Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool (2006), Sidelonging, Neon Gallery, London (2005), Talking Painting (2-person show) Vertigo Gallery London (2002) 

Julian Wakelin lives and works in London.

Phillip Allen's works exude a genuine optimism towards the activity of painting. Thick encrusted layers of paint line the top and bottom integrating the physical artist's palette within the surface of the painting. Intertwining a range of patterns and shapes that construct illusionary space, referencing a long lineage of painting styles and gestures.

Recent exhibitions include: Xavier Hufkens Gallery, Belgium (2007), Layer Cake Fabio Tiboni Arte Contemporanea, Bologna, Italy (2007), Milton Keynes Gallery (2006), Archipeinture: Painters Bulid Architecture, Camden Arts Centre (2006), British Art Show 6 (2005), Kerlin Gallery, Dublin (2005), P.S.1, New York (2003), The Approach Gallery, London (2004, 2002, 1998) 

Phillip Allen lives and works in London.

Sean Ashton is an artist and writer. His contribution to this exhibition is a text that reflects on the themes and issues surrounding hopefulness. His first book Sunsets and Doghists, published by Alma Books was released this year.

Recent exhibitions include: Beacon Arts Project 2007, Mablethorpe, Lincolnshire (2007), Les Merveilles du Monde, Musée des Beaux Arts, Dunkerque, France (2005), Family Business, Pitzhanger Manor House Gallery, London (2003), False Economy, Gasworks Gallery, London (1999) 

Sean Ashton lives and works in London.

Sam Basu's other worldly sculptures consider craft, design and arcitecture as worthy of revolution. Over the past year Basu has inhabited a factory complex in a remote part of central France. Working in isolation, he is slowly reshaping a number of disused industrial buildings by hand. From this base Basu is also continuing his own experimental research project, the Institute of Transmitted Architecture "set up to monitor the spontaneous descriptions of dwelling and community that appear outside of the architectural world." The factory complex also operates as his studio.

Recent exhibitions include: BASUHAUS, Kate Macgarry (2007), World Gone Mad, Herbert Read Gallery (touring the UK)(2006), Blake and Sons, Glucksman Gallery, Cork, Ireland. Lovely Crinkle Crankle, Camden Arts Centre (2005), Karlsruhe Institute of Transmitted Architecture Meyer Riegger 2 (2005), Lost Collection of the Invisible Man. Laing Gallery, Newcastle (2003 

Sam Basu lives and works in France.

In this show: 
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