Artist Richard Dickson with his work No Rehearsal, featured in the window of Camden Image Gallery, packed with visitors for the opening night of the collective installation Indelible - NFTL Art 2016. It’s a striking and uncompromising piece in stoneware and copper placed to lead the eye in to the packed gallery featuring another distinctive show of just under fifty new pieces by Nude For Thought London, a loose collective formed in 2012. The pieces in the collective installation are thoughtful, exactly as the group's title suggests, the topic for the group's rhetoric is the human form and so clothing does not figure.
Some of the thought is more obvious and some takes more working out: Jonathan Armour’s group of works with his model Martin features the Mappa Mundi, the medieval map, projected or painted on to the surface of the skin of his model; the artist has then reversed the mapping process by scanning the model’s painted skin. to produce a flat artwork, almost life-sized. Further processing has composited an image of the model standing in to photographs of the surface of Mars, giving to my eye an impression related to Adam in the Garden of Eden, ie Martin on the surface of Mars, the image of the Mappa Mundi representing the sins of the Earth.
Jon also presents an engaging video art work Infinite Surface, made in collaboration with Richard Sawdon Smith; they used a lens which gives an extreme close view, rather like your dentist might use to show you your teeth. Infinite Surface traverses the painted and shaved body of the model in intimate and frank detail, the body is scrupulously clean and spotlessly shaven to be fully naked. This video technique is familiar from the images from endoscopes penetrating inside the body except that the model’s skin in Infinite Surface is painted so the realisation dawns on the viewer that this is a view of the external body, presented in a way in which we have have learned to view the internal workings of ourselves. It’s something of a shock to how we view our body to see the external skin portrayed in this way and a relief that the questing voyage of the camera does not end at a life-threatening globulous tumour; like all good movies, there is a surprise implanted in the narrative... I had the pleasure of watching part of the video through in association with the model, who seemed to be enjoying - and was certainly unfazed by - the experience of revealing his self in this way.
Much to feast the eyes and brain on in this show. I enjoyed Ed Bucknall’s elegant simplicity and directness of two rather more discreet works of figures painted on marble, Contemplation and Trapped Between Two Faces. Also Robert Lee Baker’s works Rebis and Negredo, Albedo and Citrinitas; these explore images of the self and some transformations. The artist uses a multiple layer technique to achieve a depth effect which separates the model and his double of himself as a devil. An elegant piece which is visually striking and conceptually coherent.
Final mention for another of Richard Dickson’s engaging sculptures, Be Funny, the image of the face literally bursting out from behind clear acrylic “glass” in the frame.
NFTL are achieving their aim of a tangible common spirit and producing engaging and approachable work. It looks also as though they are enjoying their individuality as well as thriving on their shared rhetoric. Their prices are not unreasonable, too.
Indelible continues until the 7th November 2016 at the Camden Image Gallery, London N1
Nude for Thought's 2015 exhibition: re: Defining beauty - Leydon Gallery