In celebration of their first anniversary, Hoxton Art Gallery are showing The Pleasure Principle. We took this opportunity to speak to Director Matthew Nickerson about what makes the gallery different and what to expect from their latest show.
RVG: Congratulations on the Hoxton Art Gallery’s first year anniversary! What have been the highlights of the gallery’s first year and what lessons will you carry into the future?
MN: Thank you! The main highlight has been establishing our core group of artists, who we believe have great futures ahead of them. We are proud to be working with such a talented group. The main lesson we have learnt is to not follow the crowd and go with our gut instincts!
RVG: The themes of your exhibitions tend to play with traditional tropes in the arts canon; but with work that is very much situated in the contemporary realm. What is the ideology behind the gallery?
MN: Our exhibition programme has leant towards art historical dialogue but we also have show’s that are discussing scientific or psychological concepts, for example. We place importance on the relationship between aesthetic, the conceptual and political and believe our exhibitions and the artists that we represent and promote reflect a good balance of these things.
RVG: The gallery’s curation tends to be of group shows emerging from a central theme rather than a monographic structure. Does this practice distinguish the gallery do you think?
MN: This has definitely distinguished the gallery amongst other curatorial programme’s in London. It has been a great way to get to know a broader group of artists and has also been a wonderful way to see what can be created from a brief, both from the artists and from us curatorially. Putting on group shows with a central theme is challenging as it is only successful if the show has cohesion, the theme has strength and the artist’s voices are heard. We have had good feedback and aim to continuously challenge and develop the way we work. We are now working towards solo shows with our signed artists and we are excited about working in this format. We are also getting some great guest curators in, which should be fun.
RVG: To mark the anniversary milestone you are showing The Pleasure Principal, what can we expect from the exhibition?
MN: There is a dark sense of irony underlining the show and some of the works may come across perverse but this is what I wanted to showcase. The exhibition stemmed from my concerns with modern day living and the show will feature pieces in a variety of media by artists that are commenting on contemporary consumerist culture. At the moment many of the artworks are still being made so we are looking forward to seeing them finished and altogether in the space.
RVG: The show includes artists who work in very different media and disciplines; why these four artists and what unifies them is this exhibition?
MN: Although the artist’s practices differ greatly with regards to the media they work in, they are each commenting on concepts relating to modern living and the future of our existence. With this in mind I was really excited about showcasing their works together as I think this will create an interesting dialogue, both visually and conceptually.
RVG: Consumerist culture is such a vast and expansive subject, and in many ways the contemporary art world itself is indicative of modern consumerist traits. Is there an element of deux es machina in making this the theme of your anniversary exhibition?
MN: This was not intended but is a natural thought to anyone involved in art. Consumerist culture is a by-product of the real basis of the exhibition, which is exploring the contemporary human psyche. The show is questioning why we buy into false prophets and things that do not really improve our existence. This is perhaps not a new concept but because consumerist culture is constantly changing, technology is developing at a rapid rate and the idea is being explored by young artists the show is going to present a conversation that is very relevant to now.
RVG: What else can we expect from Hoxton Art Gallery as you enter your second year?
MN: Everyone involved in Hoxton Art Gallery is greatly looking forward to the year ahead. We are a dynamic group so you never know what will be around the corner! There are fascinating projects, collaborations and exhibitions planned. Many of our artists are making new works for their solo exhibitions and we are currently working on a sound and video installation by Blackfriars Bridge, supported by the City of London during the Olympics.
The Pleasure Principle, 01-06-2012 until 12-07-2012, 64 Charlotte Road, Hoxton, London, EC2A 3PE. www.hoxtonartgallery.co.uk
Text: Rachel Van Greuning
Credit: Steven Dickie, Great Leap Forward, 2012