An evening with art at the Nottingham Contemporary

Nottingham city has always had plenty of cultural and artistic events that people can engage in.

With several venues catering to these events, the vibrancy and richness of the city are constantly kept alive. Currently, there are a couple of striking art exhibitions happening at Nottingham Contemporary.

For those who might be interested in seeing a brilliant blend of artistic mediums, browsing through artist Charlotte Johannesson’s works which are on display, would make for an enriching evening.

As an artist who has been exploring the confluence of the digital and the artisanal for over 50 years, her works depict a seamless blend between pixels and weaves, both in structure, feel, subject and aesthetics.

“There was great synchronicity between the two machines, which I thought I could use.” These are the artist’s thoughts about their work which has been made accessible to visitors via a poster cum pamphlet that is handed out as part of the exhibition.

This exploration of the continuity between textiles and the digital eventually led to a body of work which she calls ‘woven digital graphics’.

As a viewer, I was left taken aback by a subtle yet overwhelming sense of realisation about several similarities and overlaps between the two mediums which seemed to have been hidden in plain sight until Johannesson emphasised these elements through her works.

There are two rooms which feature her works on cloth as well as on digital screens which can be viewed. In terms of the subject, her works also address questions like the nature of art, blurring binaries between formats and mediums as well as personal enquiries into these themes.

In the adjacent gallery, the viewer is greeted with a collection of works by the London-based artist Rosalind Nashashibi. A striking change in tone and feel from the previous exhibition, this collection is said to be Nashashibi’s largest presentation of her works in the UK. She was also the inaugural artist-in-residence at the National Gallery.

As a practising filmmaker whose films have been received well for over two decades, her works exhibit a level of drama, colour composition and framing which reveals her prowess in two different mediums.

“Filmmaking is the social side of my practice, whereas painting is me alone with my inner life. They are two very different ways in which I express myself, although they are both absolutely linked to me.” These words by the artist mentioned in the poster handed out as part of this exhibition reveal the expertise and flair she brings to both of these mediums.

This collection is titled ‘Hooks’ and throughout all of the works, one could infer clear references and underlying commentary in relation to ideas of connection, linking, visual imagery of hooks as well as a sensory hook that captivates the viewer.

Digital pieces created by Johannesson displayed alongside her works on textile. Image Credit: Akhila Thomas

There are several works that serve as ‘hooks’ or connections in relation to each other where motifs, symbols and ideas that inspired the previous works serve as the guiding point shaping the next painting. This is seen in works featuring crosses, bowties and moths as subject material which reveals an undercurrent of similarities that inspired their genesis.

Films also serve as a major source of inspiration in her art where films like John Cassavetes’s The Killing of a Chinese Bookie and plays like Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night serve as visual elements that appear in her works.

As a viewer, it is easy to be momentarily taken into a world of bold yet dreamy strokes, stunning colour and visual details as we browse through her works. The beautiful posters handed out as part of the exhibitions also make for striking memoirs.

An evening spent with these works at the gallery would prove to be a calm and enriching experience for those looking forward to learning more about art, getting familiar with new artists or just exploring something different in the city.

Lead Image: Painting by Rosalind Nashashibi featuring the key motif of this collection. Credit: Akhila Thomas

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