SOUTH solo exhibition, TEN. Cardiff 15th Oct. – 20th Nov. 2021
New landscape paintings 2020-21
Seymour Hill is a housing estate in South Belfast.
Penrhys is a housing estate in South Wales
Celf Gymreig Newydd | | New Welsh Art
r/o 143 Donald St.
Caerdydd CF24 4TP
029 2060 0495
TEN is thrilled to present ‘South’, André Stitt’s fifth solo exhibition with the gallery. A pandemic-paused exhibition, the timing seems pre-destined. After a year which saw mandated daily walks around the block deepen our connection to our square mile, Stitt’s subject of lived-experience has a fuller familiarity. For a number of years, Stitt’s love of brutalist modernism and architecture of the 20th century has been at the forefront of his paintings. New Towns, estates, tower blocks and fading joys of civic concrete – and the shape of these buildings and places both structurally and humanly.
But ‘South’ is deeper, more personal.
Stitt’s childhood home on the Seymour Hill estate in South Belfast is one part of his subject. A 1960/70’s concrete estate, brutal with the tensions of The Troubles. Penrhys estate in Ferndale, South Wales is the other. A sink estate of remarkable architecture, falling to pieces. Both locations mirror each other – city-planned council estates, new social housing for a post-war ‘new future’, not living up to the dream. The gritty, dilapidated and vandalised is the backdrop to lived-in homes.
And the painted surface reflects this. A punctured, burned and black-marked background to angular structures and flat planes of walls and roofs. The oil stick is heavy and thick, the spray-paint hinting at graffiti – harsh, dark marks on top of bright, hopeful colours, with the buildings slap bang centre-stage, on top of it all.
And that, there, is the crux – Stitt’s abstract paintings of architectural structures are about people – people existing and living in their local surroundings.
We experience these locations through Stitt’s own lived experience, and of his own walks around the block.
cat gardiner / TEN. gallerist
South concerns itself with housing estates and the neglected sites of post-social-industrial habitation, places on the margin evoking an aesthetics of disorder, offering simultaneous ghostly glimpses into the past and a tactile encounter with space and materiality haunted by a future that never arrives.
Paint coated and burnt clean with low snarling ash wrenched into rippled spears and jubilant slaloms of sustain. An opaque overt sensuality ruled by heft-raining needles of static.
Simultaneously upfront and remote, euphoric yet utterly forlorn. Confined and defiant.
The fragments, details and sensations within these paintings seem to add up to an overarching sense of despair. They are burnt, frayed and tormented. Here is a fascism wrought by institutional neglect and abandonment. Here are communities imploding under the brutalist weight of political marginalisation. The South in these paintings is a place of immolation inflicted through a sudden attack of mania and as a subtle, almost imperceptible shift in the norm through shades of community displacement, systemic abandonment, deprivation, alcohol and drug abuse, repression, economic cruelty, corruption, lies, exclusion and disappointment.