What does a painting sound like? If we look at the latest Prog rock series by André Stitt, then we should brace ourselves for a dynamic pulsating rhythm exploding across the canvas. The paintings are born from pumping sonic beats into his studio; they radiate gestural brush-marks with vibrant spine-tingling sensations of colour. Aside from the strong surface qualities, the depth of a Stitt painting is hypnotically absorbing. The viewer becomes seduced and lodged between the overlapping layers and rich texture.
The works will debut in Northern Ireland on 25 May in an international group exhibition at The Warning Art Gallery (located for one month in the Crescent Arts Centre, Belfast) and despite four weeks before the opening, Gallery Director Brian Nixon has already been inundated with pre-sales of Stitt paintings for the show.
Born in Belfast in 1958, Stitt is considered one of the most controversial of all the leading contemporary artists in Europe. He is well known to the media for headline grabbing performances such as ‘White Trash Curry Kick’ where he kicked cartons of curry down Bedford High Street (England) – drawing attention to anti-social drinking behaviour; living in a cage for three days with a Dingo in Sydney (Australia) and the re-formation of the mythic psych-freak-beat band Panacea Society. Aside from his edgy art career, Stitt is also a highly respected academic. He is Professor of Performance and Interdisciplinary Art at Cardiff Metropolitan University and is also the director of the Centre for Fine Art Research at Cardiff School of Art & Design, Wales. Throughout his career he has exhibited across the globe from Bangkok to New York and also at the world’s premier fine art event, the Venice Biennale.
A predominate theme in his artistic output is that of communities and their dissolution, often relating to civil conflict and art as a redemptive proposition.
Visiting the artist at his studio in April this year, the first observation is the impressive New York style scale. A large warehouse space is divided into three separate painting rooms. The light is exceptional and the space is thriving with the creative juices of an artist spurting out in every direction, with multiple paintings on the go simultaneously. Every mark on the canvas is performed like an action painting, the physicality of the process akin to the movements of an accomplished fencer swirling a sword through the air. Spontaneous and raw, the studio is a hive of glorious unapologetic experimentation.
The epic large-scale canvases offer ambiguous abstract space that invites the viewer into this strange but alluring world. On Friday 25 May, Belfast can expect one of the most magical multi-sensory experiences of the year. Upbeat. Playful. Subliminal. Meditative. Seductive. Intelligent. André Stitt is a pure genius.
Professor Stitt will give a short introductory talk at 6:30pm on Friday 25 May at the Crescent Arts Centre in the gallery during the launch of ‘WARNING! This is Contemporary Art’. The exhibition will continue until Friday 15 June, Monday – Saturday, 10:30am to 5:30pm. Late night Fridays until 8pm. Please note this entire show is strictly limited to over 18s only. For further information on the debut of Stitt’s Prog rock series in Belfast please visit www.warningart.com/andrestitt.html or contact art dealer Brian Nixon at firstname.lastname@example.org
Image above: PROG LP – 6: HARVESTER [Kosmik Allotment] = THE LAW OF HISTORICAL MEMORY (2009) André Stitt, oil on linen 100 x 100 cms