BANG! 2013

BANG! 2013

Made as a painting in 2011 with an image taken from a sports store in Moscow advertising Sochi Olympics. The background borrows a technique by British artist James Hugonin. The text reads in cyrillic as UDAR, translating as bang, slap, impact etc. The painting was shown at The Central House of Artists in Moscow in 2011.
This print is a re-working of the original, incorporating 30+ colours layered via silkscreen. Made with Jealous Gallery printer Matthew Rich in Spring/Summer 2013.

What is worrying for Russian citizens at the moment is the complete media blackout (by state controlled organisations) of information coming from the west, but also from Ukraine, Crimea and protest blogs and sights at home.

Access to information for those who oppose the impending war is increasingly difficult, as state channels peddle out staged incidents from Crimea, that include fake gun battles with so called ‘fascists’ and incidents of torture proved to be from January.

Many individuals in Russia will find it increasingly difficult to vocalise any form of verbal or physical opposition to Putins will, as the state machine clamps down on free thought.

The term fascist has been bandied around by many this week as disinformation becomes truth. In a recent exchange with an American blogger who supports the Jewish population of Ukraine, I was accused of supporting the new fascist regime in Ukraine, simply for posting a letter from the Rabbinic council there, calling on Putin to back off.

As disinformation swirls we have to remember:
The west did not physically back the coup, but of course supported early elections in dissatisfaction with the corrupt regimes rejection of Europe over Russian bribes.
There may be an element of neo fascist thuggery in the interim government, but the word interim there is key.
The jewish population of Ukraine has already said it can look after itself, and certainly does not need Russian troops on the ground to help out.
Russian troops are on the ground for a reason, to invade and make a land grab while the interim government is busy picking up the pieces.

Shame on Putin for bringing us to the brink of war in Europe to bolster his dictatorship and prop up his corrupt regime.

And of course, apart from being nuked, the real issue here is financial meltdown in the Russian economy, which will only affect the poor.


ZONBI presents
Pre-production: an exploration of contemporary painting practice.

Louise Bristow * Adam Dix * Ian Gonczarow * Jane Millican * Benet Spencer

Pre-production exposes the visual testing and exploration of subject matter and material before committal to final output.

Historically the audience rarely sees the preparatory work of the artist. Instead and more so now, the audience gets the gloss full stop. If you visit a review show like the recent Lichtenstein retro at Tate you might glimpse a few sketches of his early cartoons – before they were all transformed into Benday dots – or a few collages on lined paper, but these are often versions that don’t make it into a finished work. Richter’s Atlas (2006) is perhaps the best example of a thorough exposé of the artistic process. The extensive library of photographs taken and collected, played with in collages and visualised as super massive canvases, give a deeper understanding of the core concerns of the practice. The personal navigation through the world of images, memory and response are staked out and laid bare.

When thinking specifically about collage and painting, perhaps the first examples that come to mind are the works of Picasso and Schwitters, or Dalwood and Rosler. Collage provides a jumble of the expected in combination with the absurd. The rules of normal engagement are suspended – in favour of a parade of the impossible, the visceral. The real is pasted back onto the illusion in the case of Picassos’ ‘Still Life With Chair Caning’ (1912), compressing our experience of the real and facsimile at one in the same time. Or, we are transported into a state of war via a snapshot version of our own domestic bliss juxtaposed with state sanctioned inhumanity courtesy of Rosler’s ‘Photo Op’ (2004).

The notion that temporal shifts are occurring, and a warping of a multiplicity of genres and codes is certain.

In our 21st century everyday, the collage or mash up is a way of life. I walk from home to studio and pass through zones of ethnicity and architecture street by street. My particular soundtrack shuffles through ‘rock and roll all night’ to ‘Un as der Rebbe singt’. I have memory and association that is triggered by these sights and sounds, a memory flashing through time zones of personal experience at searing speeds, sometimes analysing sometimes questioning, but always changing, revolving, responding.


As we hurtle further into our future, the bulkheads that once conveniently separated out artists’ stylistic output are long ago crumpled and broken. We occasionally find a stylistic commonality in the work we encounter in group shows – 30 paintings in the ‘on trend’ style. We continue to read the zones of recognisable elements in our new context of instant access. We search the surface of a painting, naming the reference points, naming the stolen and the plundered. We tangle in the juxtapositions imposed and the new regime of contemporary dialectics post-temporal, post collapse.

It’s this sense of urgency that ricochets all through the twentieth century, with collage and it’s symbolic collisions resurfacing almost systematically at every new resurgence of collective panic and social change. Massimiliano Gioni 01

The artists presented here have been followed via browser bookmarks by ZONBI for some time and bring together a wide variety of pre-production processes. Part Two of this exhibition will offer the finished works that the samples here describe and outline, but for now the presentation is limited to 5 artists preparatory sketchbooks, print outs, drawings and models.

One question that Pre-production asks is ‘why is this not the work?’ For tutors in art schools it can be a recurring question. Where is the departure point from the set up? Why does it have to be a drawing, a painting or sculpture? Is this not enough?

Louise Bristow’s work in this show is perhaps the most orthodox in terms of historic approaches, but it is also the most ambitious in terms of the multiplicity of converging potentials. The process involves a careful selection of found, readymade and made-to-order 3-dimensional elements that are then meticulously rendered in photographic detail in paint. The resulting macro-vistas – perhaps reminiscent of landscape painting from antiquity – position us directly in the flux of meaning, as juxtaposition and combination leave us frozen, quite unable to decide on a one line quip to explain it all away.


Adam Dix employs mythologies and traditions mixed with the sinister elements of the science fiction genre, in order to make sense of our current preoccupations with technology. The celebration of our times – the high-speed mast or linkup – is present in the production that also invokes a range of ‘folk’ and ‘familial’ circumstance. These picturesque or idyllic institutions are cruelly and cynically corrupted into a critique on the folly of our naivety, transcribed to replicate the printed aesthetic origin.


Benet Spencer utilises digital technology to form 2D collages that ultimately examine the relationships between pattern, architecture and the natural world. The commitment to Photoshop as a tool for cutting and pasting has been discussed at length in the last few years, but less resolved is the confluence of both forms i.e. pixels and wet oily paint. The paintings produced as a result of this digital rendering are liberated from the confines of 0’s and 1’s into paintings that revel in the joys of the swathe, the swoosh, the drip and the smudge. One easy formal analysis could be that the electrical energy of the bright Mac plasma is a catalyst for work that pushes awkwardly cropped elements into a field bursting with the essence of that same slightly dystopic glow.


Ian Gonczarow is an ardent keeper of a sketchbook. All the paintings he produces undergo an incubus period there. Often a collage will be repeated several times before commitment to a larger scale and mono material. The urgency of the flippant cack-handed stroke over a tangle of felt-tip is his fixation, alongside the potential converging narratives therein. Referents to current geo-political turmoil are cut and covered, removed and then re-drawn in order that the artist may be ‘cutting’ in opinion and still have the challenge of painting a faithful reproduction.

Art must concern itself with the real, but it throws away any notion of the real into question. It always turns the real into a façade, a representation, and a construction. But it also raises questions about the motives of that construction. Mike Kelley02

Jane Millican’s practice has evolved from pure painting – where daubs of paint were fearlessly applied to massive canvases – to one where mark making with paint is now the informer of intricate pencil drawings. The petri dish-like study of the swoosh with lead and graphite now takes primacy over the standalone dialogue of the ABEX marks, but of course it has to be the right kind of swoosh. Shown here is a selection of ‘marks’ that are later committed to drawings.


What changes to the semiotic reading of a felt tip drawing when transferred into oil paint, apart from the obvious transcription?

A stacking up of meaning – derived from the origins of image and its materiality – when transformed by paint or pencil into a representation, with new material properties and therefore ‘meaning’, is what is key to all in this show. Multiplicity abounds: when we slide from zones of the familiar to zones of the unknown in our commute to work everyday, no two journeys are ever the same. The route could be, the train may appear to be; but the news has changed, the music is different, the faces are new, the war is over or the war is just beginning… the packed tube is altogether different with Electric Wizard rather than Tchaikovsky, with football fans than with a school group…




Louise Bristow is an artist based in Brighton. Upcoming shows include a solo at Pallant House Gallery in Chichester.
Benet Spencer is Course Leader in BA Fine Art at Anglia Ruskin University, and recently exhibited in ‘Forward Thinking’ at Horatio Jr.
Adam Dix is an artist based in London. Recent shows include Unobtrusive measures at Kunstpavilion Munich.
Jane Milican is an artist based in Newcastle upon Tyne. Jane shows regularly with Kenneth Paul Lesko Gallery.
Ian Gonczarow is an artist based in London. Ian recently showed work at Art13 with Jealous Gallery and is the curator of Pre-production

Welome to ZONBI.
An ongoing project by undead artist Ian Gonczarow.

What is ZONBI?

ZONBI aims to bring the sensible criticism of art, contemporary curatorial practice and art writing back into the public realm
ZONBI aims to show you art that is not dead
ZONBI aims to show you the difference between the dead and the undead
ZONBI aims to discuss curation, by bringing you online groupings of artists works complete with sensible writing
ZONBI aims to discuss contemporary painting and the current state of it’s cadaver
ZONBI aims to make voodoo, and resurrect the dead
ZONBI aims to walk the streets of London, and exhibit the undead