Hobson’s Choice: Andy Holden at Cubitt

8 March 2012 By
CAS Recommends: February - March 2012

Paul Hobson, Director of the Contemporary Art Society, recommends his favourite exhibition of the week.

17 February – 16 March 2012

CUBITT, 8 Angel Mews, London N1 9HH

Wednesday – Sunday 12 – 6pm


Andy Holden has attracted critical attention for an introspective and encyclopaedic practice accumulating across sculpture, painting, music and performance, and characterised by the recurring themes of memory, duration and materiality.  His new project at Cubitt in Islington – The Dan Cox Library for the Unfinished Concept of Thingly Time – has tragic origins belied by its playful title and engaging format.

Andy was working with his close friend and so called `theoretical advisor’ Dan Cox, whom he had invited to curate his solo show at Kettle’s Yard in Cambridge last summer, when Dan was killed in a road-accident in East London.  On a weekly basis, Dan and Andy had met and recorded their conversations in homage to Flaubert’s Bouvard et Pécuchet – his unfinished satirical novel published posthumously- which tells the tale of two Parisian copy-clerks who form a close symbiotic friendship and embark on an exhausting quest for knowledge before returning, with a profound sense of resignation, to the act of copying again.  On the morning of his death, Dan had proposed a title for Andy’s exhibition – ‘Chewy Cosmos, Thingly Time’ – with tantalizing outline notes referring to a significant new theory of ‘thingly time’, now left open to speculation in its embryonic form.

Andy’s project at Cubitt includes two elements, both of which are designed to encourage reflection upon what might be meant by `thingly time’.  The first is a library-type space, containing all of Dan’s books alongside fragments from Andy’s sculptural projects, reflecting the spirit of the pair’s close collaboration and opening up a dialogue between forms and ideas.  The second, is a small exhibition of works by other artists selected by Andy, called – ‘The Language of the Flowers and the Stars’ – taking its title from a poem by French writer, Raymond Radiguet (who also died prematurely at the age of just 20) – which aims to make ‘thingly time’ manifest in physical forms, so far as the concept might be understood.

Complex, multi-faceted and layered, Andy’s approach to this project has the generosity and care of both creator and custodian of orphaned concepts – a memorial to a close friend that is a quietly poignant expression of ideas unauthored and unresolved, but ripe with possibilities.

Image: © Andy Holden, The Dan Cox Library for the Unfinished Concept of Thingly Time, installation view at Cubitt Gallery, courtesy the artist and Andy Keate

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