Min Angel's exhibition Poise inspired by music and synaesthesia
Emerging artist's Corn Exchange show showcases drawings, collages and objects
Emerging artist Min Angel talks to Talitha Kotzé about the materials, music and synaesthesia that inform her first solo exhibition
Unknown thrills lie in the cracks of experience, and Min Angel’s radar is set to pick up these disjunctures and feelings of ‘in-betweenness’. Her first solo show, Poise, at the Corn Exchange showcases drawings, collages and objects with prop-like qualities. She takes 70 colourful buckets from the pound shop and stacks them from floor to ceiling; adds a wheel to a crutch rending this medical apparatus so mobile that it extends beyond the function of its original purpose; gives life to Roll (arriba, arriba), a small black three wheel-legged creature; and she makes copious drawings.
After seeing her degree show at London’s Slade School of Fine Art in 2008, Caroline Alexander, director of The Corn Exchange, approached Angel and invited her to exhibit her work in Edinburgh. Alexander, who aims to create opportunities for new and emerging artists, felt that Angel’s work was so strong that it merited a solo exhibition.
Angel enjoys playing with materials and her work is full of humour. ‘In between thinking you know something and discovering you don’t, you may find a delicious surprise,’ she says. ‘There’s a suspended moment of surprise and then absorption. On the one hand it represents both the pause of a pendulum – that interstice – and the swing, or the activity of see-sawing until balance is found.’ Continuously seeking this equilibrium prompted the title Poise.
Her practice draws on the formal qualities of Bauhaus artist László Moholy-Nagy, Iranian artist Nairy Baghramian and English sculptor Phyllida Barlow. She also talks about a particular affinity with the contemporary work of Lucy Skaer, Karin Ruggaber and Melanie Counsell.
Angel’s recent series of pencil drawings shades the outline of negative space with repetitive cross hatching, playing with positive and negative space to build up stanzas that consist of grouping together lines, set off by an empty space to form rhythmic patterns. ‘I feel that there is a definite musical quality to most of my recent drawings.’ Working in her studio in south London, her iPod shuffle mode can cover anything from late 70s disco to Groove Armada and The Bad Shepherds. ‘I find music helps a lot as it stops some of the chatter in my head. Also, being short-sighted was useful because I took off my glasses which meant that I had to get very close to the surface of the board and couldn’t see the whole work – myopic drawing!’ She has started working with a musician who is composing music for these cross-hatching drawings as an ongoing body of work.
Angel also talks about her experiences of synaesthesia, giving colour to emotion. In ‘Fetch’, her drawing has developed into sculptural form: a series of gates are lined up across the gallery floor. Hinged with removable pins they can be reconstructed into different compositions. ‘It is irregular in sequence and painted in an uncomfortable palette, colours from my youth, memories of crimpolene and the smell of face powder. A line from point to point, fetched up in space.’
The title came to her while reading Robert MacFarlane’s ‘The Wild Places’ on the train up to Edinburgh: ‘Ideas, like waves have fetches. They arrive with us having travelled vast distances, and their pasts are often invisible, or barely imaginable.’
‘It is a fabulous sentence,’ Angel gushes, ‘I wish I had written it.’
Min Angel: Poise, Corn Exchange, Edinburgh, Thu 4 Nov–Thu 16 Dec.