28 November 2014 - 31 March 2015
Opening Reception 28 November 2014 7pm
Mercer Union has commissioned British artist Giles Round for the second billboard project at the corner of Bloor Street West and St. Clarens Avenue.
Giles Round’s Untitled, 1943/1944 (SORRY!) layers a printed interjecting apology over a page cut from a catalogue on the work of German artist Kurt Schwitters (1887-1948) over a backdrop of traditonal hand marbled paper. The source of this earnest declaration remains unclear; is it the sculptural form that is apologizing? A personal utterance falling on deaf ears? Or regret for the unrealized potentialities of modernism to alter our world? Schwitters’ lifelong obsession with the idea of the gesamtkunstwerk or ‘total work of art’ hovers in the background, but foremost is a belief that art really matters morally and politically.
Giles Round looks to the language of modernism to explore the history of ideological positions that proposed methods for new modes of living and production, and the influence these have had on how we live in the present. His works trace alternative histories of British modernism – those that are often overshadowed by the canonical modernist narrative and particularly those relating to the decorative or domestic. As such, his work encompasses sculpture, architecture, typography, furniture and functional objects. Through these various forms he engages with the discourse and ideas that dismantle the hierarchies between applied and fine arts and merge art and life. There exists an allusion to moments of collectivity, inherent within the history of modernism itself, hinting at past, present and future euphoria. Since 2011, he has been working on three conceptually driven long-term and large-scale projects; The Coniston Secession, The Grantchester Pottery and THE SCHTIP. The Grantchester Pottery mimics the structure of historic artist decorative arts studios such as Omega Workshops and Hammer Prints Ltd, to embrace and elicit collaborative anonymous artist design, producing utilitarian ceramics, alongside other decorative household items – such as printed and woven textiles, wallpaper, painted furniture and hand painted murals. Developed in close collaboration with Grizedale Arts, Cumbria, The Coniston Secession, is a long-term project and meta-structure in which to produce works – Grizedale Arts acts as producer and skilled artisans as manufacturers. THE SCHTIP is a collaboration between two artists, Giles Round & Sarah Staton. Founded in April 2013, THE SCHTIP is mutable in form and has to date operated as gallery, architectural practice and artist.
Giles Round (b.1976) lives and works in London, England. Recent exhibitions include Commons Room, Grizedale Arts at Anyang Public Art Project Biennial, Anyang, South Korea, 2014 (collaboration with Grizedale); Hey, I’m Mr Poetic, Wysing Arts, Cambridgeshire, 2014 (group); Zero Hours, Art Sheffield Biennial, Sheffield, 2013 (billboard commission); ARTIST DECORATORS, The Grantchester Pottery, ICA, London, 2013 (solo); Studio Wares, The Grantchester Pottery, David Dale Gallery, Glasgow, 2013 (solo); Décor, The Grantchester Pottery, ROWING, London, 2012 (solo); The Studio of Giles Round, Serpentine Gallery, London, 2010 (solo).