Karla Black + Kishio Suga: A New Order by O Street, UK16 November,2016
Opinion by Richard Baird.
A New Order is an exhibition of the work of Karla Black and Kishio Suga taking place at Modern One of the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art between 22nd October and 19th February. The artists, unaware of each other’s work prior to the conception of the exhibition, working on opposite sides of the world, are described as being united in their use of everyday materials to create sculptural work that responds to specific spaces. This commonality informed the visual identity of the exhibition designed by Glasgow based O Street and ties together wordmark, invitations, signage and posters.
Although artists are divided by distance, Black in Glasgow, Scotland and Suga in Morioka, Japan, the commonality of their approach; the use of everyday materials that respond to space, is expressed in a couple of ways. The exhibition’s wordmark is perhaps the most literal but neatest realisation of this idea, finding a natural relationship between the names of each artist, brought together through Commercial Type’s Grafik and drawn out using white and grey. It is a simple but elegant concept, typeset with restraint, rooted in the nature of exhibition and in line with the gallery’s overall identity system.
The material qualities present in the exhibition and the artist’s use of light and shadow is drawn out in the approach to indoor and outdoor signage.
Outdoors, loosely woven canvas banners bring type together from two sides while indoors, signage printed on semi-transparatent paper, raised from the surface of the gallery wall, has a lightness but also casts shadow.
This materiality is also present within the invitations, similarly capturing a sense of light and shade in the use of white and grey inks, and perhaps more interestingly, diffusing the shapes of letters and the hands that hold it. The use of semi-transparent paper, and printing the names on different sides, feels like a neat way of connecting and dividing in an interesting and unusual way.
Colour and material palette find a pleasant balance between the simplicity, lightness and nuance associated with Japanese art and design and the more robust industrial and urban qualities of Glasgow.
The success of the work really comes down to its interpretation of exhibition, and the way this elevates some of the more conventional aesthetic qualities associated with contemporary art galleries. This approach adds to but does not compete with exhibition, and punctuates, with plenty of space, a busy urban environment with posters.
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