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A review of Tuesday Talk with Rob Tufnell, Nov 20th

November 20, 2012

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We hope you enjoyed today’s Tuesday Talk featuring Rob Tufnell as much as we did. The incredibly intelligent work he has shown takes inspiration from the counterculture of the 1960s and ’70s, and brings to mind a strong, progressive curation of art that we can only hope to try and recap here.

First, some background information on Tufnell: Rob Tufnell runs a commercial gallery in Westminster, London. He studied on the Curatorial Training Programme at De Appel in Amsterdam and painting at the Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art. He previously worked as a curator at Turner Contemporary, Margate; Kettle’s Yard, University of Cambridge and at Dundee Contemporary Arts. He also worked For Modern Art in London and at the Modern Institute in Glasgow. He has written for a number of magazines, artist’s monographs and institutional catalogues in the past and teaches in art schools across Britain and abroad. He also works as a freelance curator and writer. In this capacity he toured an exhibition called ‘Altogether Elsewhere’ that explores notions of psychedelia in contemporary art practice. The most recent incarnation was on show in Istanbul.

He is interested in exhibiting art that defies the the optimistic stereotype that art galleries are agents of social change, social mobility, and critiquing the economic climate. He chooses instead to exhibit art that is deliberately devious and subversive, involving provocative political theories, fetishism, anarchy, conceit, and contradiction. Among some of his projects, he curated posters from Art-Language magazine founded in the 1960s, art by British anarchist cells, abstractualized film stills from the film ‘Savage Messiah’, psychedelic pop art inspired by psychoactive drugs, and much more into numerous exhibitions shown publicly as well as in his own gallery.
Here are two of his exhibitions that he profiled during his talk:
Altogether ElsewhereAltogether Elsewhere explores ‘psychedelia’ in contemporary art practice. Largely avoiding clichés of psychedelia that simply adopt bright colours and refer to synthetic, laboratory produced hallucinogens, this exhibition instead attempts to frame apparently opposing conceptual, craft and media-led practices within a timeless art history that looks back to the shamanic, drug induced rituals of prehistory.
Savage Messiah: The show occupied the tiny gallery space shared by Sutton Lane Gallery and Rob Tufnell, who co-curated the exhibition with Michelle Cotton. A number of the artists included in the show had a direct connection with either Gaudier or Russell’s film: Horace Brodsky, Edward Wadsworth and Alfred Wolmark were contemporaries or friends of Gaudier; Derek Jarman designed the sets for Savage Messiah, while Bill Woodrow worked on props. All were represented here. Others, though, were present in a more oblique, but perhaps more active role, drafted in to suggest that, far from being an historic moment, Vorticism might remain a dynamic force in the art of the present.
We are so grateful to have hosted Tufnell, and glad that this series of talks has delivered such a broad art perspective. Click on the ‘Tuesday Talks’ tab on the right of the page to see out upcoming sessions, don’t miss out!
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