Warning! This is Contemporary Art: a new exhibition shakes up the Belfast art scene

By Jenni Davidson | 30 May 2012
A photograph of two men standing beside a sign saying Warning! This is Contemporary Art and two plastic containers covered with coloured pins.
Warning Art Gallery's director Brian Nixon (left) with exhibition curator Brendan Jamison and Jamison's sculpture, Containers.
© Warning Art Gallery
WARNING! This is Contemporary Art, The Warning Art Gallery, Crescent Arts Centre, Belfast, until June 15 2012

An x-rated art exhibition is challenging the boundaries of the Northern Irish contemporary art scene.

WARNING! This is Contemporary Art, which takes place in the pop up Warning Art Gallery at the Crescent Arts Centre, contains a series of sexually explicit and psychologically dark works focusing on alternative representations of the human body and its functions.

A pastel drawing of two naked men
Ciaran Magill, Coming Closer (2012). Pastel on paper.
© Warning Art Gallery
The group exhibition features work by 26 artists from Europe and America, including Tracey Emin, Julian Opie, André Stitt, Brendan Jamison and Ciaran Magill. It is curated by sculptor Brendan Jamison and features one of his works, Containers – two plastic containers covered in giant coloured map pins, which appear to be engaged in a sex act.

One highlight of the exhibition is André Stitt’s paintings. Stitt, who also delivered the exhibition’s opening talk, created the Prog Rock series of abstract paintings while listening to loud music with obscene lyrics, while his giant Black Mountain High is a response to the city of Belfast.

The Sperm Harvesters by Lydia Holmes is a pencil drawing of four erect penises, rising like a ridge of inaccessible pinnacles with women throwing ropes over them and ascending like mountaineers. It references reports of female gangs in Zimbabwe subjected men to sexual abuse in order obtain sperm, desired for it’s believed beauty and ritual benefits.

Tracy Emin’s See How They Grow continues the penis theme with a picture of two penises being showered from a watering can, while Galen Olmsted’s Angel Shit subverts porcelain’s pure and white associations and re-inteprets it as the dross of the earth’s surface.

Peter Richards’ The Curator, the Dealer, his Friend and his Artist is a tongue in cheek recreation of the roasted lover scene in Peter Greenaway’s film The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover,

A video still of a woman getting undressed
Royce (Leonie Magill in performance), All in the Doing (2011). Digital photographic print.
© Warning Art Gallery
It uses pinhole technology to create a sepia-tinted scene and features gallery director Brian Nixon, exhibition curator Brendan Jamison, and artists Miguel Martin, Lydia Holmes and Alvin Hobson playing the characters.

Warning was founded and is directed by contemporary art collector Brian Nixon and aims to challenge the conservative Northern Irish art establishment, which tends to focus on attractive and representational art.

WARNING! This is Contemporary Art is the first in series of exhibitions by The Warning Art Gallery.

Modelling itself on the contemporary art scenes of London, New York and Berlin, the gallery will put on a series of exhibitions that explore 21st century life and offer edgier contemporary artists a chance to display their work in Northern Ireland, rather than waiting to be taking up by galleries in England or further afield.

  • Monday to Saturday 10.30am-5.30pm (Fridays until 8pm). Over-18s only. Entry free.

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