Review: ASC gallery + Recreational Grounds exhibition

 

The location of this show, co-curated by PADA Studios and ASC Studios, is confusing to say the least. Creeping through the back streets of Elephant & Castle on a windy Friday night, I mistakenly follow arty-looking people up piss-smelling stairs to what transpires to be entirely the wrong exhibition. After skulking ominously and even scrawling some review notes such as ‘bursts of colour’ and ‘vast murky canvases’, I eventually work out I am not where I’m supposed to be and am redirected to the correct place.

Photo: Diana Cerezino - Mark Jackson ‘Oil on Linen’

Photo: Diana Cerezino - Mark Jackson ‘Oil on Linen’

Take 2. The ASC gallery is much smaller than the open studios I have just come from, and it takes a moment to focus on the sparse amount of works hanging in the gallery. It is, however, worthy of the attention.

Greeting you as you walk into the exhibition are a series of canvases by the hand of Luisa Jacinto; these small, abstract works depict textures like the surface of Mars, and set the tone for the exhibition’s other-worldly feel. Diogo da Cruz’s video installation — a singular drone shot following a running figure across what appears to be a desolate wasteland — is captivating: we soar above it whilst a sinister voice speaks over the scene. I am later told the location is Barreiro, Lisbon, and herein lies a key part of the exhibition’s identity: the union of British and Portuguese artists (PADA Studios are based in Barreiro).

The showstopper of the exhibition for me, however, is Mark Jackson’s oil on linen, ‘Diver with Keys’. An abstract piece with hints of the figurative, the warm, engaging piece’s flesh tones and muted lines are captivating. Overall, the gallery uses limited capacity to its advantage: quality not quantity is the overriding consensus. Each piece is linked by aesthetic to its neighbour yet remains distinct.

Photo: Fiona Grady - Emma Hornsby at Recreational Grounds

Photo: Fiona Grady - Emma Hornsby at Recreational Grounds

I move on to the second aspect of the exhibition: the ‘Recreational Grounds’. This is just as hard to find, and I have to be personally escorted there. Across the road, I find myself in a deserted car park beneath a block of council flats; here, colourful sacks sway from the ceiling. A pool of pink spills across the concrete floor, and elsewhere bold shape outlines are reminiscent of Matisse’s cutouts. The whole space feels like an immersive crime scene — although I later find out that it is the work of separate artists, there’s a unifying quality to this eerie space (which, to note, is only open for 48 hours).

While the PADA exhibition lacks cohesion, with two distinctly separate sites that might leave you squinting cross-eyed at Google Maps and wondering what on earth they’ve got to do with each other, the range of works featured in the exhibition more than makes up for it. If you have a taste for cross-culture that traverses the realms of our planet, then get down to the ASC Gallery to see this minimal but engaging smattering of artwork.