A stunning mixed media and collage attempt. A variety of shapes, swirls and colors reminicent of the groovy 70s. Texture abound, and materials are mixed to create new forms the human eye can only begin to imagine. This is the artwork of Danny Rolph, heavily emphasized in his current exhibition: “Happenstance”, his second solo exhibition in Milan.
A native of Great Britain, Rolph has been influenced by Italian culture since the days of his youth. Back then, he was interested in a combination of Italian design, fashion and football. Those interests never escaped him, and now has been linked by an astounding fascination with the country’s art, its colors, architecture, energy and most importantly, confidence. This exudes with full force in the body of work exhibited in this show.
When looking at conceptual art, and well, art in general, it is important to instinctively respond to what is before you, rather than making assumptions of what the artist’s original intention was. That was the challenge I gave myself while viewing Rolph’s works in this exhibition. I noted that several of the paintings were done in the form of a collage, that had a 3-D effect and that almost always, the artist used strong, bold colors on a white canvas, with a sharp grey background. I also found his shredded paper collage, composed in a variety of media (including glitter) to be extremely compelling. Just by looking at these works, one could immediately tell that they were meant to be an exclamation of sorts, a celebration of art, design and culture… but yet, at the same time, the bombardment of all these things together at once. My observations, of course, came pretty close to the artists’ original intent, which was the following (taken from the AR Contemporary Gallery Press Release):
“Above all, the mixture of different paints, applications, outlines and collage generated a striking metaphor for the sensual bombardment of modern life by simultaneous sounds, smells, shapes and colours; by the continuous overlapping of fleeting glances, textures in movement, changing light and the memory of all that.”
It is also important to note the successful exhibition design of Rolph’s show. The use of space was terrific, because there weren’t too many paintings hung together side by side, and allowed the viewers to walk around without feeling bombarded, even though Rolph intended to illustrate that very concept in his work. The space inabled the viewers to breathe easier while viewing the artwork. It was almost as if each painting were its own, hung on a single wall space individually, for each viewer to marvel at. The walls coincided with the mettallic effect found in most of Rolph’s paintings, and the floor (the original color, I’m sure) was this shiny, grey slate color that dazzled and spiced up the atmosphere even more. There were no labels or wall text, only numbers — which is, indeed, a very contemporary way of exhibiting artwork.
All in all, it was a very well done show that was both asethetically stimulating and pleasing to the eye. “Happenstance” is an imaginative route that will definitely open doors for British abstract painting from here on out.