HARD TO READ – Collected Paint Poems, Pansemia, Cinematic Drawings and Logograms
SJ FOWLER // Rich Mix Gallery – December 9th 2017 to January 6th 2018
Once we understand excess, then we can get really simple.
From the gallery “Collecting together the art poetry of SJ Fowler, this solo exhibition aims to pose several questions of the poem as a concrete, visual thing in the world. What is in the shape of a letter and what images do words recall? What is the meaning of colour in poetry and text upon the page, and white space? How does the situation of a poem change its meaning? Why is composition not a concept that applies to a medium that is innately visual? In literature, why has content overwhelmed context? Why has product dominated process? HARD TO READ poses these questions and answers them poorly, playfully, with over 40 original works drawn from multiple publications and previous exhibitions – works that interrogate handwriting, abstraction, illustration, asemic and pansemic writing, scribbling, crossings out, forgotten notes, strange scrawls – the odd interaction between paper and pen, and pencil, and coloured words that randomly collide with image recalling words.
This is an exhibition about the page as a block, about geometry, about lines that sever meaning, about inarticulate shapes, about minimalism and collage. It is about making, gesturing towards the handmade poem, the amateur poet, the outside, liquid and paper, the absence of technology, and ugliness – toilet wall draughtsmanship and mess. It is a response to being called an artist in the poetry world, and a poet in the arts world.”
This is my second solo exhibition and will kick off The Poem Brut, a new project I’m doing which includes the books I fear my best work behind me (Stranger Press 2017), Aletta Ocean’s Alphabet Empire (Hesterglock Press), The Collected Scribblings of SJ Fowler (Zimzalla 2018). It’s also part of my time as Rich Mix Associate Artist.
HARD TO READ exhibition launch Dec 9 at Rich Mix 35 – 47 Bethnal Green Road London E1 6LA
More info here
Coming soon : The Poem Brut
Four new limited edition art books and an exhibition at Rich Mix as well as, beyond my own work, a programme of books, events, exhibitions and installations that explores the visual and contextual character of poetry and text, and in so doing the overlaps between modern art and modern poetry.
The Poem Brut explores the language art, the art of poetry – handwriting, abstraction, illustration, asemic and pansemic writing, concrete poetry and more. This is an examination of words that are meant to make you squint, to battle for legibility, rather than you be able to pinch and extend your thumb and forefinger against the page to get a closer look. As a major part of our day becomes how much time to spend online, and a movement slowly arises to disengage from online existence, so The Poem Brut is also intended to be a tiny return to the obscure, inarticulate, child-like intensity of our making marks upon a page, pen, brush, pencil to paper, that which underpinned the art brut and all it was influenced by.
Drawing on the great post-war figures of avant-garde poetry and visceral text art, and so interrogating the limitations of these definitions, The Poem Brut will refer back to European figures still profoundly underappreciated in the UK, most especially in literature. Henri Michaux, Christian Dotremont, Karel Appel, Asger Jorn, the CoBrA group, Messa.
Works that explore language as markings, that return to the lost languages of linguistic history alongside the immediacy of groundbreaking art movements that used text freely and influenced practitioners from Basquiat to Twombly, will be created and brought into focus. Both those who pioneered such works in poetry and art will be brought together, from the last seven decades and the now.
I fear my best work behind me / Stranger Press : November 2017
A book of poem-bruts. A fractured, overwhelmed, handwritten victim of colour, brutalist child-like portraiture, abstract illustration and negative space. The works call back to the post-war and latter 20th century explorations of the CoBrA group – especially – Pierre Alechinsky, Asger Jorn, Karel Appel – who have been influential on my thinking and work. / Artworks have been published in Oxford Poetry, Test Centre magazine, Gorse Magazine, Partisan Hotel, Fractalia. http://www.stevenjfowler.com/ifear
Aletta Ocean’s Alphabet Empire / Hesterglock Press : 25 November 2017
A book of pansemic or asemic writings, hand wrought, using indian ink, techniques edging around writing, vying with abstraction, watercolour. The drawings of Henri Michaux, the writing art of Christian Dotremont, others I can throw in, Yves Klein.
New Prim / Hesterglock Press : 2018
The obscure, inarticulate, child-like intensity of the movement of the hand while writing – deliberately rough, handworked. The words are meant to make you squint, to battle for legibility, rather than you be able to pinch and extend your thumb and forefinger against the page to get a closer look. Scribbling is more interesting than type, as are crossings out, as are forgotten notes, strange scrawls, gesturing toward the handmade, the amateur, the outside, a tiny gesture of mine towards paint, ink and paper, towards liquid and wood, ugliness, toilet wall draughtsmanship and mess.