© Polly Apfelbaum

Polly Apfelbaum: Crazy Love/Love Crazy (detail), 2003
Synthetic velvet and fabric dye
2 parts, approx. 30 x 17 & 32 x 27 feet
Courtesy of the artist and D'Amelio Terras, New York
© 2004 Polly Apfelbaum

A Kind of Bliss

Polly Apfelbaum
, Katy Dove, Len Lye & Lily van der Stokker

"A Kind of Bliss" celebrates the visceral power of colour and explores its relationship to drawing in the work of Polly Apfelbaum, Katy Dove, Lily van der Stokker and the twentieth century historic predecessor, Len Lye. This exhibition seeks to question historical debates in which intellectual, moral and aesthetic supremacy is attributed to line over colour.

These artists revel in the use of colour, delighting in its seductive, celebratory and at times chaotic nature. Roland Barthes describes the sensuous, intoxicating power of colour, so feared by its detractors; "Colour... is a kind of bliss... like a closing eyelid, a tiny fainting spell". These artists use line and form in harmony with colour rather than in opposition and attempt to marry the formal and conceptual in works that make conspicuous the trace of the artist's hand.

Two of Len Lye's experimental and intoxicating film works will serve as an introduction to the contemporary work. Commissioned by the General Post Office Film Unit to add fun, colour and energy to its otherwise sober advertising, "Colour Box" (1935) and "Rainbow Dance" (1936) used innovative techniques including drawing directly onto the film, "colourising" black and white film in the laboratory and combining cartoon drawings with live action.

Polly Apfelbaum will present a site-specific floor work - an array of stylised flowers drawn onto brightly coloured velvet and then cut out. Apfelbaum's practice has crossed the boundaries between sculpture, painting and drawing in a bid to give the immaterial substance, create order out of chaos and imbue colour with the authority of content and form. She has referred to her floor works as "fallen paintings", suggesting that they have "fallen from grace" and wallow in such earthly pleasures as decadent fabrics and colours.

Katy Dove will make a new video animation. Instinctive felt-tip pen drawings are made in response to a soundtrack created by the artist. These drawings are then animated through computer programming. The process of making automatic, abstract drawings allows her imagination to become reality; it gives concrete form to an imaginary concept.

Lily van der Stokker will make a site-specific installation that incorporates wall painting and sculpture and explores the idea of artifice and embellishment. In her work clichéd flowers, doodles and words are blown up to enormous proportions and rendered in pastel shades or psychedelic colours in a bid to celebrate adornment and challenge cynicism.

A 28 page publication, with a text by the Curators, 10 colour plates and a commissioned work by David Batchelor, will accompany the exhibition.

This exhibition is supported by Arts Council West Midlands and the Mondriaan Foundation, Amsterdam.

Curated by Helen Legg, Kate Macfarlane and Katharine Stout, this exhibition is a collaboration between The Drawing Room, London and the Mead Gallery, University of Warwick, Coventry.

Exhibition: 19 February - 28 March 2004
Gallery hours: Thu-Sat 11am - 6pm

The Drawing Room
Tannery Arts
Brunswick Wharf
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GB-London E2 8BD
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