Stephen Marshall | The Ocean Is Dark Until I Held It In My Hand | 03 - 25 November 2012
For Stephen Marshall, tradition is not a historical concept; it is an unavoidable aspect of the contemporary. Through woodcuts, sculptures and the spaces between them, Marshall sets the stage for an encounter with a personal yet universal history of experience.
This is Marshall's first exploration into three dimensional work and large scale reduction colour woodcuts. Through his new work he positions himself as the narrator, holding a mirror up to himself and telling his own story whilst also turning it back on the viewer, revealing that everything in the present has an immediate relation to the past. His personal experiences transcend the individual and relate to the shared experience of living, the images in his work openly acknowledge that they are a construct of his visual memory and the finished artworks themselves are also the product of long and arduous processes.
His large and colourful prints are full of detail; each a collage of images that have resonated in the artist's mind and converged to form a narrative. The rich pictorial landscape demands that time be spent looking; exploring the layers and reflecting on their immediate and collective meaning. In the creation of this work, Marshall's desire for raw expression struggled with his natural self consciousness. The result is a veil of humorous imagery, thin enough to allow the audience glimpses of the brutal honesty beneath each print but strong enough to protect the vulnerable autobiographical content from the direct gaze of the audience. His playful sculptures extend the depth and significance of his work beyond the flat picture space, inviting and intentionally placing the viewer into the heart of the narrative whilst adding a theatrical element to the arrangement of the exhibition.
Marshall's unique and honest style is a new marriage of historical and contemporary practice. His use of pictorial forms as the mirror for human experience is at times uncomfortably frank but the overall effect reveals an elegant synchronisation between artist and audience.
To coincide with this exhibition Marshall will be publishing a new zine of his most recent sketches and preparatory work. This will be available to purchase at the opening event and throughout the exhibition.
South Square, Thornton, Bradford, BD13 3LD
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