Bada Song, ‘Ta-il’, Gallery 1
Andrea Heller, ‘Elements’, Gallery 2
25 Jan- 1 March
It takes a while to get to the Agency, a train journey over ground and then a short walk, but it’s worth the journey. Set in a non-descript terraced house it has an intimacy and character that’s a refreshing change from the recent trend of large museum style spaces now popping up in London.
There is a strong emphasis on drawing in the two shows currently on at the gallery. Bada Song and Andrea Heller approach drawing with very different outcomes but at the same time are united by their common interest in the performative aspects of drawing. The process and materiality of drawing, where image making is a secondary concern or rather is the result of the process.
At first glance Bada Songs work in gallery 1- consisting of a series of drawings that depict a recurring form, repeated in various figurations and sculptures of tube like structures, placed on the floor of the gallery and hand smudged with red lipstick- emerges from a minimalist framework with its reductionism of form, repetition and interest in material. This is where the similarities end though because unlike the work of the greats of minimalism such as Donald Judd and Carl Andre that celebrates a culture defined by mass industry, using new synthetic materials and methods of fabrication as a means of making. Bada’s work still remains rooted in traditional craft, within a more local context, drawn from her South Korean background. Her recurring motif references traditional Korean roof tiles that are gradually becoming replaced by more modern fabricated materials. This lament to tradition and craft brings a beautiful fragility and intimacy to the work all the more emphasised by the materials she chooses to use.
In gallery 2; which is reached by a set of stairs, Andrea Heller’s first U.k. show includes drawings of various sizes; one large drawing pinned to the wall and several smaller framed works. Made of watercolour and ink on paper, Andrea only uses the colour black or varied tones of black where hints of colour such as purple or blue emerges from the shadow of the dominant blackness, like hints of light out of darkness. Her work moves between the magical space between abstraction and figuration; legs and hands protruding from blob like masses that appear to crawl across the picture surface. They have a folk or fairy tale feel about them in their amorphous appearance. Characters dressed in carnival costume performing a shadow play or some kind of ritual. The large drawing, with its grid like structure looks like a rock or mountain formation that is in perpetual growth, silently breathing. Her drawings remind me of the childlike fascination of seeing a mark on a piece of paper magically form into an image. Arriving perhaps from what Paul Klee in his 1923 essay ‘Ways of Nature Study’, termed as a cosmic bond between the artist and nature, where through working with a synthesis of outward side and inner vision, the artist’s role is to make the inside visible.
( To view work of Andrea Heller please check out her website http://www.andreaheller.ch/)