MALCOLM GREEN / Goddur, Bjarni H. Þórarinsson, Ómar Stefánsson
03. 09. 2005 - 25. 09. 2005
Two exhibitions at Kling og Bang gallery
Open 3rd of September at 5 pm
3rd September – 25th September 2005

Malcolm Green
“Banners Bright”

Born in south England – has lived in Germany now for over twenty years.
Studied in the early 1970s psychology and in the late 1970s dance, while simultaneously painting and participating in such notable group shows as the “Whitechapel Open”, and collaborating with among others Genesis P. Orridge.
From 1979 solo-dancer and choreographer for ten years in Austria and Germany. During this period co-founded the publishing house Atlas Press in London, which focuses exclusively on the writings of the avant-garde, including Expressionism, Dada, Surrealism, OuLiPo, the Vienna Actionists, and Fluxus. It was through Atlas that Malcolm Green worked and became friends with Dieter Roth. Roth also encouraged him when he returned in the mid-1990s to painting, and arranged his first solo exhibition for him.
Since then Malcolm Green has had numerous solo and group exhibitions home and abroad, most recently at the Lodz Biennale and the Museum of Pataphysics in London, and has works in various public and private collections. He also curated the first one-man show of Hermann Nitsch in the UK (1997) and the Dieter Roth Academy exhibition in Lübeck, 2004. Apart from being a member of the Dieter Roth Academy, Malcolm Green is currently its Webmaster.

The Ins and Outs of Malcolm Green’s Work

Malcolm Green began producing vinyl banners in 2004. They go back to several hundred A4 graphics that he produced between 1999 and 2003, reworking his daily observations and drawings in his notebooks to map his obsessions in a diary-like way. His favourites were later selected by him for publication in two books, and by the same process (favouritism!) several of the graphics were selected and reworked and grouped with new, specially devised pieces for a large quartet measuring nearly 8 x 5.5 metres for the Petri-Kirche in Lübeck, Germany, in Summer 2004. These were the first vinyl banners.
The change in size obviously necessitated an intensification of the working methods, even if essentially the possibility of bringing together and combining scanned-in drawings and graphics, photos, Internet images and CAD designs and texts on an egalitarian basis remains unchanged. Yet such large formats have sometimes triggered the question why the artist likes to work so big. The artist’s answer: “Size is just like colour, as every miniaturist will also tell you” he replies, adding: “A rose looks nicer perhaps if it’s red rather than grey, and some of my graphics look better if done in the ‘colour’ big. It’s not much different with shock or obscenity, or beauty, or obscurity – they’re all different colours that work better in one situation or for one image than they do for another.” The same is true even of colour itself: the powerful palette Green often uses has prompted some writers to identify him as a latter-day Pop Artist, ignoring the fact that his works almost never relate to Pop’s often humourless commodity world; Pop, as Green sees it, is now yet another colour in the palette, another Photoshop filter to be used or not to achieve something else. The way Surrealism is used to sell cigarettes.
One main constant however throughout Green’s medley of styles is the direct use of text in his works. Initially the text was little more than a title, although by being included in the picture it responded to its surroundings, to the style and to the image, a gave an immediate context to the latter. As the artist remarks, in this he was also responding to his background as a former dancer and choreographer, for he was one of many in the 1980s and later who attempted to combine dance with speech so as to expand the medium and, incidentally at least, to prevent the problem of having to read a programme to know what the dancers were doing on the stage: “It was the same with the paintings, I wanted to avoid the viewer having to look at pieces of paper on the wall next to them to know what they are about”.
Yet there is more to what he describes than simply a formal solution: the first pieces that Green did with wording in them were paintings done on sheet metal by raising the outline of the image and the text from the surface using a hammer and nail, and then painting them in using gloss paint. Green had observed this simple technique on the back of rickshaws in Nepal, and wondered how best to adopt it, and what format to use. After much thought he settled on 12 inches by 12 inches, but it was not until he had already finished several of these text and image pieces that he realized that he had unconsciously chosen the LP record cover format. An eye schooled over the decades by record covers had pushed him to a recall a medium in which the very form of the text is part of the picture in much the same way that the image comments on the text’s content… Soon the titles of his metal paintings and later his banners dictated images, made asides on them, altered contexts, while bowing to the style of the imagery and sometimes being tripped up and contradicted by the picture itself. Context could be decontexualised by the image the text defines; the two could amplify or annul each other. Or consciously suspend each other on an estranged, laconic level that questions the relation between word and thing. No more meanings inside, no contexts outside.

In some works, particularly the series Green did in Autumn 2004 for the Lodz Biennale, a number of texts within the same piece embody different voices and respond in a telling way to one another and to the visuals, or interestingly in some cases to themselves… such as the autonomous yet “authoritative” voices of newspaper headlines, scientific narrative, politics. When juxtaposed with and placed on a level with more marginalized or cranky voices, the curious nature of their mechanisms is made clear: either they must admit to the solipsism of their own narratives, and accept that they have no ultimate external framework other than (pragmatic) assertion, or admit that they live chiefly by negating or discounting other standpoints by whatever means. (That this is true for other voices is made apparent by precisely these mechanisms.) Either way, the narratives lay claim to an outer foundation that lies purely inside in their own delusion, or depend for their inner certainty on the non-validity and thus necessity of what is outside of them.
In this way the large vinyl banners are far removed from the world of advertising, for they risk negating the very elements of which they are composed. Or the standpoints that these represent. And ultimately there is no simple standpoint from which anyone, an artist or a scientist say, can tackle the world, for even the simple standpoint of the observer is ambivalent: one can not only look at one’s hand from outside, but also feel it in that same moment from inside: the self normally so certain that it resides inside something it calls a body loses its footing when it examines this body itself: if I can be inside me and outside me at the same time, the validity of any one standpoint disappears for it looks strongly as if there is no more inside and outside and that we are all citizens of some stranger dimension, if only we would know it… Perhaps a skeleton striving to gain an out-of-the-body experience feels much the same.

- L. Mclarge
All quotations are taken from conversations between the author and the artist.

Text in english on COSMOSIS downstairs coming soon
danzig_(lodz) dog_(lodz) ins_and_outs_flyer x-dollar x-haem cosmosis p2130053 omar_bjarni_kling p1120009 p1120012 p1120025 p2130035 p2130037 p2130038 p2130040
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