BY Aida Amoako in Reviews | 11 SEP 20

Charmaine Watkiss and Andrew Pierre Hart Tune to the Blues

At Tiwani Contemporary, the artists convey blue as both a colour and a sound

A
BY Aida Amoako in Reviews | 11 SEP 20

In ‘The Abstract Truth of Things’, London-based artists Charmaine Watkiss and Andrew Pierre Hart explore the transformative power of the colour blue. Watkiss’s cyanotypes Traces of Memory (2020) – a deep-blue, star-filled sky in the form of a female silhouette – make the relative insignificance of the human body within the magnitude of the cosmos seem, conversely, infinitely vast. Her pencil and watercolour drawings of griots use lighter washes of blue that render the figures intangible, almost ghostly – an effect compounded by the way they avert their gazes from the viewer.

Charmaine Watkiss, Traces of memory - No.3-11, 2020, cyanotype on paper, 21 × 29.7 cm. Courtesy: the artist and Tiwani Contemporary, London
Charmaine Watkiss, Traces of memory - No.3-11, 2020, cyanotype on paper, 21 × 29.7 cm. Courtesy: the artist and Tiwani Contemporary, London

The exhibition’s title can be traced back through US artist David Hammons’s 1997 Kunsthalle Bern show, ‘The Blues and the Abstract Truth’, to Oliver Nelson’s eponymous 1961 jazz album. Hart’s canvases evoke paintings of jazz-club nightlife, while also tracking the evolution of Black music over time to dub and drum and bass, producing a sense of unreality as they convey bass’s metamorphic power. bass experiment (sisters) it works in our town (s1:e1), 2020 depicts a female figure balancing her heel on a sound system while a second figure levitates behind her in an astral projection.Words painted on the canvas declare that 72 Hz – a bass-note frequency – activates the ‘flow-ting’, a homophone for ‘floating’. The viewer is transported from the blue of night to the purples and reds of a bass-induced hallucination.  bass experiment, the blue night sequence (s1:e1) (2020) depicts two figures, one of whom is shaped out of a dark-blue expanse. With a giant speaker protruding like a prosthesis from their sleeve, this figure could equally be a ghostly projection of the bass note itself, as though its resonance were powerful enough to dislodge a soul from its body. Here, Watkiss and Hart convey blue as both a colour and a sound, whose boundary-dissolving expansiveness carries stories through time, like griots and music.

Main image: Charmaine Watkiss and Andrew Pierre Hart, ‘The Abstract Truth of Things’, 2020, installation view. Courtesy: Tiwani Contemporary, London 

Aida Amoako is a writer and critic from London

SHARE THIS
MORE LIKE THIS