PRESS RELEASE April 2013 PRESS RELEASE PIERS SECUNDA – A RETROSPECTIVE UpDown Gallery 21 June – 27 July 2013 “Making a record of the time in which you are alive is, I believe, the most important thing an artist can do.” Piers Secunda Ten years of work presented in a unique retrospective of artwork by compulsive risk-taker and groundbreaking artist Piers Secunda Updown Gallery is delighted to present a major solo exhibition by pioneering artist Piers Secunda, featuring important works made across a period of ten years. Piers Secunda – A Retrospective runs 21 June – 27 July 2013 at Updown Gallery, Ramsgate. This large new commercial gallery counts a major Bridget Riley retrospective and ’60 Years of Peter Blake Prints’ amongst its first exhibitions. Since 2009, when Secunda and his interpreter persuaded soldiers from the Chinese Army (PLA) to shoot some works for him on a firing range near Shanghai, the artist has travelled around the world to gather bullet holes, both cast and shot. The China works started an ongoing series which continues to run, and which in 2010 took him to Kabul, Afghanistan, to mould Taliban bullet holes from suicide bomb attack sites. The resulting works have been described by art book publishers Phaidon as “The most compelling works to have come out of the Taliban conflict.” This wide-ranging exhibition will cover Secunda’s renowned “Bullet Hole” series – in which his practice incorporates bullet holes shot and cast in some of the world’s most notorious danger zones, including Afghanistan and the no-go neighbourhoods of Kingston, Jamaica – to his most recent assemblages and crude oil silk screens. The comprehensive showcase provides an insight into an extraordinary and stunning studio practice, which records some of the most important social and political conversations of our time. The works in the retrospective range from simple moulded forms to intricately detailed, hand-held objects with multiple moving parts such as the Chinese Puzzle Balls – the common theme across the exhibition being that all the works are made out of paint. Over 17 years Secunda’s artistic practice has evolved around the use of paint as a sculptural medium, and has resulted in highly complex structures created from paint alone. It is the combination of innovative techniques within powerful symbolism that sets this method apart. Secunda’s work is often steeped in forgotten histories and laced with geo-political references, such as printing with crude oil, ultimately producing work full of rich narratives – while simultaneously pushing paint to its absolute limits. “I have always been bothered by the physical restraints of the canvas. For me it limits what a painting can be, so I've disposed of it and I handle the paint on its own – by default the paint behaves like a sculptural material.” Piers Secunda Tivoli Gardens Bullet Holes, 2012, Industrial floor paint and household gloss, 48 x 36 x 1cm © Piers Secunda Taliban Relief Painting, 2011, cast industrial floor paint with cast paint fixtures, 302cm x 80cm x 8cm © Piers Secunda In June 2012, Secunda went to Jamaica to mould bullet holes made by the Jamaican police and army during the drug wars which erupted in Kingston in 2010 at the cost of some 200 lives. With unprecedented access to cartel heads, gang leaders and local hit men, Secunda was able to record the recent violence in his art - and persuaded the criminals to shoot sheets of paint to make work for him. Secunda’s work in both Afghanistan and Jamaica can be seen in his extraordinary short films: Afghanistan: http://www.pierssecunda.com/film-01.html Jamaica: http://www.pierssecunda.com/film-03.html Increasingly aware of how contemporary lives are entirely facilitated by oil, and setting out to record the petro-chemical age with the oil itself, Secunda was able to make crude oil behave like paint and began to screen print with it in 2009. The works portray the defining moments of the petro-chemical age – using oils from the locations portrayed. The crude oil project will span Secunda’s lifetime – and will cover the key moments in the defining material of our age. His project reveals little-known world-changing moments such as the first discovery of oil in Saudi Arabia in 1937 (With the success of the Dammam No. 7 well, at left) A work which is printed in Dammam No.7 crude oil, and an event which dramatically changed the balance of both politics and economics. Dammam No. 7 Blowing In, Dammam No. 7 crude oil, varnish, industrial floor paint and cast paint nuts and bolts © Piers Secunda Piers Secunda – A Retrospective also features several assemblage works and editions. They have been part of the practice as it has evolved over a decade and a half. Varying in size from an 8cm ball (“Painting of a Chinese Puzzle Ball”, below) to a 1m cube consisting of every rejected work from his studio over a period of a decade, the works push the limits of his practice and show us the potential for paint’s diversity. A Decade of Rejected Works Re-configured into a One Metre Cube, 2010-2012, industrial floor paint, 1m x 1m x 1m © Piers Secunda Painting of a Chinese Puzzle Ball, 2011, industrial floor paint, 8cm x 8cm x 8cm © Piers Secunda Chinese puzzle balls were traditionally ornate ivory carved craft and trade items consisting of spheres within spheres, each rotating freely though carved from the same block. Completing the puzzle requires the holder to line up the 13 exterior holes through all of the 16 concentric spheres, to the centre. Secunda’s puzzle ball is made entirely of paint, is 8cm across and 16 layers deep. A two minute film was created about this work, including an interview with the V&A’s Asian Department Curator, Julia Hutt: http://www.pierssecunda.com/film-02.html The Pergamon Museum, Berlin, and the V&A, London In 2012, the V&A announced its final plans for the conversion of its inner courtyard, a renovation which will require the removal of the majority of the Blitzdamaged “Curtain Wall” on Exhibition Road. In spite of numerous requests in the past from artists for consent to make work with the Blitz damage, permission from the V&A to do this has never been given before. But in June 2012 the V&A granted Piers Secunda permission to mould the shrapnel damage prior to the dismantlement of the Curtain Wall. These Blitz shrapnel holes will form a new body of work, which will be mirrored by the castings he will make from the shrapnel-damaged walls of Berlin’s Pergamon Museum in April of this year. Above: Piers Secunda moulds the shrapnel damage at the V&A, as published by The Art Newspaper Notes to Editors MEDIA ENQUIRIES For any media-related enquiries please contact Tani Burns: T: 0207 377 5665 M: 07888 731 419 E: firstname.lastname@example.org UpDown Gallery Satis House 11 Elms Avenue Ramsgate Kent ct11 9bw Kate Smith 01843 588181 email@example.com www.updowngallery.co.uk PIERS SECUNDA For the latest activity please visit: www.pierssecunda.com UPDOWN GALLERY Kent’s Newest Contemporary Art Gallery – Satis House, a two-storey former Victorian House in Ramsgate is the setting for Kent’s latest prestigious arts venture. Owned by curator and director Kate Smith, formerly of Bernard Jacobson Gallery, UpDown Gallery hosts exhibitions featuring the best of modern and contemporary British, European and American art. The gallery is located over two floors and across four gallery spaces; just a few minutes’ walk from Ramsgate’s town centre and the majestic Royal Harbou r. The gallery has a world-class schedule of exhibitions, including Bridget Riley, Sir Howard Hodgkin, Ben Nicholson, Damien Hirst, Ian Davenport, Piers Secunda and Katharine Le Hardy.