28 July – 21 August 2021
Walter Richard Sickert
Of Clocks and Clouds brings together artworks by a diverse range of painters spanning continents, generations, and approaches to the medium in which they work. The exhibition title riffs off an eponymous painting from the 1990s by Bernard Cohen. Cohen’s work is itself named for the 1970s orchestral piece for female voices by György Ligeti; ’Clocks and Clouds’. A hallucinogenic and occasionally nauseating piece of music that rises and ripples in an overlay of haunting cadences. Ligeti’s title in turn is an echo of philosopher Karl Popper’s method of dividing the world into two categories “to distinguish time we live in, inconsistent and elusive, from the mechanical time civilisation forces on us.” Clocks are “neat orderly systems that can be solved through reduction; clouds are an epistemic mess, highly irregular, disorderly, and more or less unpredictable.”
Let us frame Popper’s position around the act of painting; an activity that commonly deploys seemingly disorderly methods via the accretion of colour and form at varying ratios. Adapting Popper’s duality, paintings are ambivalent clocks shrouded in clouds. Gesture and meaning have latent and actual potency to communicate, obfuscate, withdraw, resurrect.
Through the duration of their making, the works in this exhibition set in motion a conversation about the meaning of time and gesture today. With that same overlaid agitation brought to mind in Ligeti’s music, Of Clocks and Clouds presents a kind of polyphonic visual surfeit, a fallout, from passing clouds.
curated by Daniel Pettitt
all photography: Damian Griffiths. Exceptions credited above.
© PALFREY 2021