Art is Language
Silkscreen ink on Lambeth 160gsm cartridge paper
On hoardings outside Kettle’s Yard, Castle St CB3 0AQ
The phrase Art is Language is repeated in acid colours across five identical poster designs over black & white background images. The images are close-up photographs of paintings of speech bubbles direct from the artist’s studio. Dribbles of oil paint evoke abstract expressionism, which are then contrasted by spray paint, which is associated more often with graffiti and street art.
In a unique handmade alphabet, the phrase Art is Language is scrawled across the background image, and beneath it–in the same handmade alphabet–is an anagram, one of five: Guitar as Angel; Gestural Again; Gargantua’s Lie; Great as Lingua; Laureating Gas. Each anagram relates to the creative disciplines of music, literature, poetry and art.
The message of Art is Language is simple: art is everywhere, and is a language just as common as the language that we read and speak daily; we just need to learn how to read it.
Adam Bridgland uses a diverse range of working methods to pursue an incisive, often witty, exploration of distinctively British sentiments, externalising the sense of loss and nostalgia that permeates memory. His repertoire is tinged with this feeling of time having passed too quickly, but twinned with this however, is an upbeat celebration of themes distilled from children’s colouring books, vintage transport posters and kitsch postcards, which he imbues with a richness of colour. These everyday, almost mundane subjects are treated with the status of emblems; centred in each work and often encapsulated within related text or target-like circular borders that focus our gaze.
Lee Johnson’s work is primarily concerned with painting, but how painting is a language just as relevant as the ones that we read, write and speak with. But his use of language is playful, using anagrams and puns to reanimate words or phrases, taking them for little walks and finding unexpected associations that can be explored further.
Metaphor, metonymy and synecdoche are tools used daily in the studio alongside brushes, palette knives and rags. Ideas of familiarity and contradiction are posited to ensure the works are open-ended and ‘incomplete’. Something can be itself as well as something else.