Iron Curtain Gallery, F10 Redtory Art Park, 128 Yuancun Siheng Lu, Tianhe District, Guangzhou
20 October – 12 November 2012
The notion of action performance underpins Marty St James’ practice as a whole and each element he creates, irrespective of the medium, is essentially an exploration of to what it is to be, in space and time. The video, digital print and drawing works brought together for this exhibition are a reflection of the breadth of the artist’s response to the notion. Ultimately, St James would suggest that the essence of all his work is the investigation of how one travels from ‘A’ to ‘B’ and what one does en route. The reference applies to journeys that are through or across literal, metaphysical and/or relational terrains. Inevitably, autobiographical elements are at the heart of the work.
Here, for the first time there is an emphasis on drawing. The artist has always drawn and he does not distinguish between this art form and performance. The action of drawing is essential to his thinking and imagination. For him, it is less to do with his observation of the world, than of wrestling with his experience of existing within it. Through drawing he translates this concept – consciously and unconsciously – into mandala-like maps. These are circular diaries of memories, complete scores of experience, marks and notations that pinch and punctuate two-dimensional space with graphic statements that are an alternative language of interpreting ontology. These responses accord to themes: walking across a field, being in Antarctica, thinking, bearing reverence to Picasso’s Blue Period, negotiating the very private ‘space’ beneath his hat. The drawings he makes in relation to existence within these respective realms are in themselves a form of action, an energised performance. Starkly, they also bear witness to the physical act of creating, to the engagement of the body with the material crafting of an art object, another testimony to corporeal existence: I was here; I made this.
For St James the drawings are expanded pin points of his attention, of his focus. They are marks, sensibilities, notations, statements reinforcing materially and concisely the concern with which he has been grappling throughout his career, of being in time.