Exhibition featuring new work by Barbara Gibson and Mark Murphy set to open at Argentea Gallery next year

An exhibition featuring new work by Birmingham based artists Barbara Gibson and Mark Murphy opens at Argentea Gallery on January 10. Fertile Ground is always the first exhibition to start the New Year at the gallery and is dedicated to promoting the best artistic talent in the region. This year it presents the work of Barbara Gibson and Mark Murphy whose practices are centred around collage and this is the first time their work has been shown alongside each other. All pieces on display are original works and available to purchase.

Be a Vision (c) Barbara Gibson 2018

Barbara Gibson uses vintage images from mid-twentieth century magazines to create socially engaged pieces that reflect upon gender issues. Her work can be read as a non-narrative celebration of historical female inconography or as insightful observations around a woman’s role in modern society. The female body in all of its guises is a key feature of her work, an allusion used to endorse the idea of progressive women subverting deep-rooted expectations.

Barbara Gibson is a graphic designer, who moved to the UK in 2014 and started working through the medium of collage just two years ago. She explains: “Collage is a tremendously exciting medium to work through. I’ve always had an interest in historic photography and, through collage, I can bring a new lease of life to works which were perhaps overlooked when they were originally published. This new collection of work represents a new approach for me and reflects the journey I am on as an artist.”

One in a Million (c) Barbara Gibson 2018

For that moment (c) Mark Murphy 2018

Mark Murphy plays with scale and form to produce simple, surreal pieces. Appropriating pictures from books and magazines from the past 60 years, his work critiques modern culture by literally slicing apart its imagery and reassembling it into striking, disjointed combinations. Based on random associations of discordant images, his compositions can be humorous, uncanny, political and thought provoking.  The playful image ‘For that moment at least, everything balanced precariously on the prospect of big bucks…’ also functions as a social commentary on economic inequality.

Mark Murphy comments “Collage as a medium has such definite parameters and is so utterly analogue, it’s quite the antithesis to modern graphic design. I love working within these limitations. I feel a bit like a hunter gatherer out collecting prints that intrigue me and seeing how they can be recycled into completely new works.”

Unseen (c) Barbara Gibson 2018

Kate (c) Barbara Gibson 2018

From its roots in early Twentieth Century Dadaism, collage is a medium that allows the artist to experiment with the physicality of photographic images by tearing them up and reassembling them into visually stimulating composites that are simultaneously serious and playful.  By exploiting the opportunity to go beyond photography’s innate ability to represent reality exactly as it is, artists are able to create reinterpreted worlds that foster fresh visions and ideas. Often satirical and nonsensical in nature, the resultant assemblages all at once form subtle critiques of modern society, question the idea of what art is and deconstruct the idea of the photograph.

By juxtaposing disparate images culled from fashion magazines, illustrated journals and photography, the artists continue the legacy of John Heartfield, Hannah Höch and Josep Renau whose work demonstrated that art itself could be created from the derangement of everyday life.

Fertile Ground run from January 10 – February 07 2019 at Argentea Gallery. For more information visit their website.

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