When Castlefield Gallery approached the artist and influential teacher Pavel Büchler with an open brief for an artistic or curatorial project, he responded by proposing to reclaim the stripped-down identity of the gallery as, simply, ‘a place where art and the public encounter one another’.
He presents a sparse selection of works chosen with a preference for an economy of means which they share with his own practice – paintings by Kris Fierens from Antwerp and Gregor Hylla from Berlin; small photographic and installation pieces by the Swiss artist Pamela Rosenkranz and from Manchester, the improvised sculptures by Ian Rawlinson and Maeve Rendle’s asynchronic video recording of a pianist’s rehearsal.
There is no overarching theme and no attempt to set up connections among the works on show or the artists who have made them. None of the works have been commissioned or made specifically for this exhibition. They originate in places, attitudes and ways of working which are as diverse as the works themselves and the only tentative links among them are their intelligent exploration of the effects of art as art and their resistance to the tyranny of ‘information’ as the means of understanding the world.
By aiming at the gap between the strong local tradition of studio practice and the context-driven polemical conventions that dominate the presentations of art today, and by deliberately setting out to frustrate our expectations of significance and search for meaning, Büchler’s approach seeks to excite our curiosity and imagination through an aesthetic experience and to jumpstart independent critical thinking. It proposes a speculative hypothesis, not a conclusion.
Parallel to the exhibition, there will be a three-part programme of 1960s’ and 70s’ artists’ films and video works, Private Viewing. This brings together some well known and obscure early experiments with the use of audiovisual media as a tool in studio practice – “like a pencil”, in the words of a pioneer of the genre, John Baldessari.