Whilst the Toshidama Gallery continues to prosper, this blog has been a little quiet of late. This is down to the commitments of gallery director Alex Faulkner to an exciting new project, Dimitri & Wenlop; a book and exhibition of new paintings by Faulkner and international artist Christopher Bucklow.
The saga of the collaboration has been played out very publicly on this blog site, beginning in April 2014 with an interview with Bucklow on the occasion of his exhibition at Riflemaker Gallery, London. In that interview, Alex kept returning to the ‘theatrical’ in Bucklow’s recent works, relating the paintings to the expansive triptychs of Japanese prints of the kabuki theatre. Chris Bucklow is a keen collector and admirer of ukiyo-e and this common ground fostered a dialogue not only about Japanese woodblock prints, (leading to a suggested redefinition of nineteenth century prints as dekiyo-e ) but also about the role of the artist, the crisis of modernism – like the travails of ukiyo-e, a centennial disaster – and the responsibility of the maker. Demand for further discussion led Faulkner to look for a different vehicle to continue the conversation. Alex takes up the story:
“I walked into Chris’ studio, partly with another interview in mind. The lighting was dim, other than a spot, lighting up his recent painting, Kasei. Chris had marked out a series of concentric circles in white chalk on the bare floorboards of the studio… it was just so theatrical. It looked like the apron of a stage, and of course the bokashi of the painting brought to mind the Japanese kabuki prints we were discussing. I had this image of Chris as a theatre director and that put me in mind of myself as producer… taking the process apart. Dimitri and Wenlop started there. The ‘play’ – the drama of these two characters emerged from that process… that moment. We started an email correspondence, exactly as it is in the exhibition catalogue, which lasted for over a year. During that time, in October 2014 in fact, Chris persuaded me to start painting again, something that I hadn’t done since 1982 – over thirty years previously. The exhibition is the result of that twelve month dialogue… an intimate sharing of the process of making things. The playscript (if that is what it is) is more or less completely unedited. It begins in Chris’ studio and ends in mine. It’s honest, blunt… and shocking in many ways. It’s not a comfortable experience for me at all!”
The exhibition, Dimitri & Wenlop, is shortly to open at the Walcot Street Mortuary Chapel in Bath, England, an exhibition space converted by international conceptualist Jannis Kounellis in 1987. The book that accompanies the show is published on that day as well by Ball-Press, under the Riflemaker imprint. Faulkner also has a one man show of paintings opening at The Black Swan Arts Centre in Frome in January.
The book, Dimitri & Wenlop, a lavish 150 page publication with beautiful pull out illustrations of everything in the show is available for £15.00 plus postage via the Dimitri & Wenlop website.