The First Cut Exhibition at City Art Gallery

Some artists really do have an ingenious take on working with paper and it was inspiring to see the ideas they had come up with. Well worth a visit if you haven’t done so already, but you only have a week left – so hurry on down to the city centre.

The artworks that stood out for me was ‘Angel #6’ by Long Chen. This was suspended above our heads and I wouldn’t be surprised if many people simply missed it. Made of an arc of books stuck together in a linear fashion he had sculpted the life size figure of an angel. I found this stunning and technically brilliant.
The other work I really admired, especially after seeing William Kentridge’s inspiring animations at Liverpool’s Bluecoat Centre last week, was an animation by Anderson M Studio. A haunting tale illustrated by paper cuts from a book. The detailed an dintricate paper cuts were brought to life by a skilful animation with a music and storytelling soundtrack. At just over 2 minutes long it was captivating.
Andrea Mastrovito’s installation, entitled Exodus 8:13, of a flowerbed in the centre of the main gallery was ingenious. Flowers simply cut out from garden seed catalogues interspersed with images of frogs and wildlife it was magical and symbolic.
One of the pieces that were most magical was Andrea Dezso’s ‘The Day we changed our lives forever – Mushroom Forest 1 & 2 and Devil’s Den 1 & 2’. These small scale 3D paper pop-up like sculpted boxes reminded me of fairytale stages. Placed on plinths under Perspex boxed highlighted their fragility and increased their sense of magic and wonder.
Rob Ryan stole the show for me with his 2 works. The ‘Map of my entire life’ was a large scale black paper cut with a challenging wide ranging narrative. With strong story telling qualities it was superbly designed with a thorough skill in being able to make the most of simple flat black and white paper cut out. His other work was a large scale, almost mirror image design, stretching from floor to ceiling. It is beautifully designed and stunningly intricate in contrast to its vast scale.
A few artists submitted more abstract artworks such as Andrew Singleton’s Stellar Spire in teh Eagle nebula. Obviously inspired by outer space photographs from Hubble it was certainly interesting. Mia Pearlman’s artwork ‘Rail’ stood out as did Andreas Kocks ‘Paperworks #1213G’ if for no other reason that it was the largest wall mounted work in the gallery. However its charcoal drawn paper added a lovely quality when look at up close in contrast to the use of black paper by other artists who chose to use this colour.
Kara Walker had her own gallery installation for her work entitled ‘Grub for sharks: A concession to the Negro Populace’ 2004. I had seen this work before at the City Gallery and was impressed then, so was happy to see it again. The work is inspired by JMW Turners painting ‘Slaves’ 1840, of a slave ship about to embark from Liverpool. It depicts scenes from pre-Civil War in the American Deep South and re-presents African American history with plenty of satire. Apart from her obvious political (race and gender) agenda the work can simply be enjoyed for its beauty, gorgeous and thoughtful design, use of space and shape and graphic purity.