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Pump House & After Image Launch

Michael Beutler and Yelena Popova overspill the canvas at Nottingham Contemporary.

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Michael Beutler has been borrowed from his native Berlin for two-part UK exhibition Pump House. Phase one was held at Bristol’s Spike Island, which was redeveloped by the same Caruso St John architects behind the Nottingham Contemporary. The two locations were purposefully matched to show how the same exhibition adapts to a new environment, or as the artist himself puts it: ‘to build different objects out of the same bricks.’

Beutler works in situ, building tactile structures around the gallery space that contains them; in the Spike Island show, there were giant teabag shapes to honour the building’s tea-packing past. In the Contemporary, this is much less literal, but there is something seamless about they way the whole thing has been fitted together. The different sections of the construction form an intuitive new layout, with layers cleverly placed to overlap or leave gaps that create natural viewpoints out through the windows.

Made up mostly of paper,  Pump House is impressively engineered. As I worked my way around, it felt comfortingly like being amongst the contents of a school craft cupboard, only with cathedral-esque proportions.

The building process is as much a part of Pump House as the finished article is. Put together using handmade tools, much of the evidence of the installation remains untidied away – gluesticks, sketches, matchstick models and spare paper all remain at the feet of the towers, strewn on surfaces or displayed conveniently on stockroom shelves.

As if part of the toolkit, Beutler himself could be found wandering around on the night, channelling the DIY co-operative spirit of the whole project.

Nottingham based Yelena Popova’s work is divided between Galleries 1 & 2. Stepping out of Beutlers den and into the cool, muted rooms brought quite a sombre mood change.
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After Image translates histories of materialisation and abstraction into art. Popover experiments with ‘painting outside of the frame’ and works in various mediums, from ceramics to video. In a world saturated with images, you are made to pick out the more subtle sensory components of her work; the deliberate placement of pieces on the walls and faintness of the colour palette.

Pump House and After Image run at Nottingham Contemporary until 25th September from 10am – 6pm,  Tuesday – Saturday.

Written in collaboration with the Creative Quarter 

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