Tuesday, 28 April 2009

REVIEW: Mooch and Revolve Gallery

Published: MANCHESTER CONFIDENTIAL, 28th April 2009

"Mooch and Revolve gallery: Thalia Allington-Wood is appalled and delighted by the Triangle's new commercial art gallery" 

Walking down Cross Street on your way to the new Mooch and Revolve gallery, there are certain things you can be forgiven for expecting. White walls, and lots of bright lighting are two of them. The sound of busy shoppers echoing loudly are not.

However, when it comes to the contemporary art gallery checklist, Mooch and Revolve have many a tick. The large ground floor space is a flood with daylight and the d├ęcor is a reassuring snow colour. The many walls were, and presumably still are, lined with many paintings: always a good sign when in an art gallery. (You think I jest, but the Pompidou in Paris recently held a retrospective of empty exhibitions since that of Yves Klein in 1958). So, one more tick for Mooch.

On the opening night, even more ticks could be awarded. A substantial amount of free wine drinking occurred. Tick. Suitably dressed people considerately milled around the space, nodding their heads as one does when viewing artworks. Tick. (Take note, to do this to best effect one’s head must be tilted, though ever so slightly. Squinting additionally goes down very well. While the accompanying gentle wag of a pen, or in this case a cocktail sausage stick, adds certain panache). We seem to be off to a good start.
Yet, some of the work, if I am truly honest, I thought was awful, dreadful even. I will name no names, as this is merely my opinion, you can go and judge for yourself.

I am all for affordable art and supporting local artists, but this does not mean the art cannot be well executed or mildly original. Replicating scenes from famous films and manipulating them in the style of Photoshop’s ‘cutout’ button is neither inventive nor mildly intriguing.
But I will hold my tongue, as simultaneously much of the work I enjoyed greatly. Rebecca Wilmer’s heavily textured pieces are subtle and moving. They are both abstract and realistic; the layered roughness of the paintwork creates the very essence of the rural landscapes she paints. Similarly, Barry Spence executes his fantastical seascapes with skill; his use of light and brush stroke creates dreamlike images.

Another favorite was the work of Michael Hitchens, whose screen-printed, geometric urban landscapes are well composed and capture perfectly the ordered, yet chaotic environment cities provide. Bold use of colour and sometimes unexpected angles add a unique stance to his images.

Then, of course, there is Andrew Brooks, whose layered and reworked digital photographs are surreal, stunning and captivating. However, it would be nice to see a bit of variety: the works of his on show have already been displayed at both From Space and Urbis.

What is so nice about this gallery is that there is little pretence and much honesty. It is a gallery that aims to be accessible to the public, to show affordable work for people to buy, and thus display work that can hang suitably in a hallway. It is not therefore the most exciting of exhibitions, but one that does its job very well indeed. Tick.

Mooch and Revolve Gallery, Triangle Shopping Centre, Exchange Square, Tuesday-Saturday, 11am-6pm, www.mooch-art.co.uk, www.revolvegallery.co.uk

LINK: http://www.manchesterconfidential.co.uk/Culture/Architecture/Mooch-and-Revolve-gallery

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