Kate Street, Debbie Lawson, Antti Laitinen, Annie Attridge, Mike Newton, Rebecca Taber, Bjorn Veno, Hektor Mamet, Eduard Bigas and Saul Zanolari;
and special performance by Mark McGowan on the opening night.


NETTIE HORN proudly presents BEAUHEMIA, the inaugural exhibition at our new premises on Vyner Street, and featuring work by the gallery’s artists - displaying a broad spectrum of characteristics that are at once beautiful, sometimes decadent, and occasionally foreboding. The works in this exhibition explore themes surrounding the loss of and search for identity and meaning in our post-modern society; a personal conflict which often overlays with current political, cultural and psychological climates. Each artist is concerned with the conception of identity, and how it is played out in the modern world, often to conflicting ends - resulting in the creation of autonomous spaces where identity and personal ethos collide within a staged mise-en-scene. Some deal with these notions of identity and meaning by creating emotive and narrative pieces addressing themes of melancholia or personal conflict, while others have a more idiosyncratic approach, lacing their works with humour and absurdity.

Debbie Lawson, Wild Thing II, 2006, Wood veneers on board, 243 x 152 cm

Street's series Little Death comprises six flower wreaths in which the component elements interweave and dovetail with a decadent and stylish manner into a luscious yet repulsive mise-en-scene; on closer inspection, the overall sculpture begins to play with our most basic insecurities and discomforts. Street's practice deals with the search for meaning through communication and language - playing on words and familiar sayings to create dark yet romantic sculptures tinged with a tongue in cheek approach to the human condition.

Laitinen documents each of his performances in intricate and humorous detail and becomes the staged enactment of his vision of Finnish identity through role-play; using explicit and esoteric cultural imagery set in a context of nature and culture. Laitinen's idiosyncratic approach lends a new perspective as well as a universal aspect of humour to his performances, a humour that arises from a meeting between impossible and incommensurate elements.

Lawson's sculptures and inlaid panels lewdly depict conflict and seduction. There is a sense of domestic psychodrama in her sculptures, where often disparate household objects collide with each other or explode, creating a sort of animated hybrid form. Her panels resemble episodes in a picaresque narrative, exploring the psychological landscape of the domestic interior as they gradually unfold to reveal strange truths about the world through a series of needless misadventures.

Attridge's extravagant and exuberant sculptures are reminiscent of an outrageous yet engaging spectacle set in a fictive classical era. The immediate grunginess of her work almost belies the numerous subtleties contained within its structure. Attridge's sculptures are like perverse desserts - ice creams scooped out in the shape of breasts - and yet reflecting a refreshing cheek imbued with sensitivity.

Veno's body of work Sirkel provided an arena where he could break down cultural and personal constraints through a form of performance, which takes inspiration from surrealist, automated writing - creating contradictions such as the distinction between the dreams and aspirations of his child self, and the realities of being a man in modern society.

Newton's oil paintings explore aspects of melancholia and nostalgia imbued with an evident cinematic influence. The emotional state of melancholia in his painting is surrounded with the halo of the sublime and yet deals with issues of ennui, ritual, role-play, stereotypes and confusion about identity. His paintings are evocative of snapped scenes extracted from a film noir in which an unsettling and unnerving mood transpires.

Mamet's playful and inquisitive approach to objects reveals an artist concerned with a fascination for our responses to the useless. These once functional objects are rendered useless and their identity and purpose become questionable. Whether we respond with humour or frustration, Mamet's assisted ready-made's refute our notions of value, and at the same time insist upon a reappraisal in completely different terms- those of our passions, emotions and perceptions.

In Bigas's paintings there is a core sense of valuation for simplicity, balance and beauty. Against a continual lightness, bizarre dreamlike forms weave and interact, suspended in a perpetual and distinct rhythm. Combining a spontaneous and automatic directness with an accomplished eye for balance, Bigas calls forth an eclectic medley of imagination, intuition and feeling.

Taber's works touch on the stark directness, the brutality, of the transitory moment, effectively drawing out the unrefined seams of emotional memory that remain with us like scars throughout our lives- which Taber calls "souvenirs" - bonding us directly to our history, and to each other. Her work utilises a careful layering of both figurative and abstract elements, utilising both automatic techniques and careful study.

Zanolari's digitally remastered images offers a surreal two-dimensional wax museum where the subject is stripped down and remodelled into a caricatured persona reflecting the universal and fundamental questions of identity, nature and angst through paradoxes and metaphors. Zanolari uses his subjects as a pretext to deal with more specific issues and concepts.