SPOTLIGHT #1 Vitrine Gallery: Encountered

VITRINE LIVE | Leah Capaldi | Edwin Burdis | David Paredes | Eddie Peake, 2012, courtesy of Vitrine Gallery



This is the first in a series of features on gallery spaces.  FAD will be showcasing galleries that have made a significant contribution to the growing and diverse art scene that exists within London.

Vitrine gallery is a contemporary art space within the heart of Bermondsey that was set up in 2010, since this point it has continued to show a strong commitment to providing a platform for emerging art practices.  As the name of the gallery suggests, the architecture of the space is unique and unconventional, a 16 metre narrow window space, which overlooks Bermondsey square.

The restricting limitations of the space, has offered new ways of thinking about presentation and display.  Vitrine breaks the confines of an esoteric gallery space, its audience isn’t just limited to an art-educated audience but the artworks are viewable to the public 24 hours a day, accessible to the community as an interchangeable and evolving window into contemporary art practice.

Curator Alys Williams has installed an interrogative curatorial approach that re-examines how we consider and work with space, so far this has led to a dynamic programme.  Central to the focus seems to be how the space is encountered, by the artists in their immediate approach, and how it is seen and perceived by the public, up close and from a distance.  Perhaps more galleries should install a similar methodology to curatorial thinking.

Accompanying the exhibitions is a diverse programme of EVENTS that includes music, film, artist talks and performance presented in the main gallery space, the public square, and the neighbouring Shortwave Cinema and other areas of the building.

Ana Genovés, Installation View ‘Block’, 2011, courtesy of Vitrine Gallery

The artists that have exhibited at Vitrine have found new and innovative ways to approach the space.  Such as; Ana Genovés’s exhibition ‘Block’, 2011.  Genovés created a geometric utilitarian block that occupied the space, wedged behind the gallery windows leaving the viewers to question;  where did this monolithic form originate from?  Why does it exist?  How did it get in there? Bringing the absurd into play and emphasising the construction of the space.

Ludovica Gioscia, Installation view, ‘Soft Power’ 2010, courtesy of Vitrine Gallery

Ludovica Gioscia’s ‘Soft Power’ 2010, was a decollage installation, where layers of custom and found wallpapers were installed and ripped down to revel the strata underneath.  Simultaneously operating on the architecture and importing into the space a pattern that often functioned like an infinitely repeated iconic logo, working primarily with the walls.  The installation had two modes a diurnal one during the day – lit by natural light – and a blacklight lit one at night, which ignited the fluorescent screen printed wallpapers referencing Italiauno and the other channels into an ‘active TV’ mode.

As well as working against the restrictive physicality of the space these two artists simultaneously addressed the site as another medium in the overall work, Genovés and Gisocia responded directly to the architecture in opposing and unique ways.  Genovés piece tackled the physical nature of the gallery, literally filling the vacuous space with an unknown substrate, an alien form that created a monolithic and dominating presence.  Whereas Gioscia worked with the walls as a backdrop to a large decollage, shifting the exhibition to operate differently at night, playing with the duality of how the gallery was encountered  24 hours a day.

Edwin Burdis, ‘Uccica’, 2012, part of Vitrine Live, courtesy of Vitrine Gallery

The programme has explored an approach that considers the breadth of making in-situ and the deconstruction of works has been incorporated into the meaning, extending the work out into action, process and performance.  So it’s a natural progression that Vitrine would explore the crossover between live art, performance and sculpture.  Recently the gallery held the VITRINE LIVE SEASON which featured the artists Leah Capaldi, Edwin Burdis Edddie Peake and David Paredes.  Over an eight week period the artists each produced a new live installation work, consecutively, creating a dialogue between the works.  Performance activated the main gallery, embedded in a complex framework of images.  The artists were invited to explore the crossovers in their practice between live art and the visual field.  Subverting the premise of performance within its traditions as an ephemeral medium, using the gallery as an environment, backdrop or prop to the performance.  The square itself becoming an arena for display.

“According to Hal Foster, the paradoxical principle of making sculpture through the unmaking distinguishes a ‘medium-differential’ investigation of the category of ‘sculpture’ from a medium-specific one. It acknowledges that sculpture is no longer established in advance or known in certainty, but must be forever proposed, tested, reworked, and proposed again” (M. Kwon, One Place After Another, 2004, pg 78)

This can be applied to thinking about other mediums of art and curation, it’s exactly this propositional way of thinking that the Vitrine has adopted, through incorporating the unmaking into the exhibition making, exhibitions can no longer be thought of as a preset mould before hand, the works are not static ‘objects‘ that are placed within the space, but propositional, confrontational, used to test out ideas, a constant reworking of form, to create a new thought system that has a future orientation.

Leah Capaldi, ‘Prop’, 2012, part of Vitrine Live, courtesy of Vitrine Gallery

Leah Capaldi is testament to this propositional way of working, during Vitrine Live, Capaldi’s ‘Prop’ exhibtion used sculptural supports and stands which supported the weight of the performers, installed within the space and reworked throughout the duration.  Debris from past exhibitions, scaffold planks and other structures were used as a type of staging or sculptural assemblage, reworking previous incarnations within the tight confines between wall and window.  The performers used the structures to manipulate and create a new navigation through the space, forming a coalesce between the language of the space and body.

“I am interested in the interface between performance and object, I wonder how far you can perform an object before you become one.  This is a great opportunity to use some of these ideas and focus on the presentation of the body, as Vitrine’s space is all about observing and being observed.” Leah Capaldi.

Leah Capaldi, ‘Prop’, 2012, part of Vitrine Live, courtesy of Vitrine Gallery

The space was active daily from 6am to midnight for seven days.  The selection of poses were varied and the the terrain of the gallery influx.

David Paredes, ‘At the End of my Three Stitched Steps’ 2012, part of Vitrine Live, courtesy of Vitrine Gallery

Likewise David Paredes’s ‘At the End of my Three Stitched Steps’ investigated the medium of sculpture, using performance as a catalyst to transform and activate the sculptures.   A Performance?Installation in three acts.  Each act linked to the permanent ‘décor’ and a transit along the space.  This ‘décor’ took on different forms: drawing ? objects; painting – objects; paintings directly on the wall; trees; flowers; neon lights; faces; lines and colour.  Paredes adopted the role of three characters that represented three words, ‘Walk, Self, End’.  The dishevelled and badly looked after characters existed as props, as sculptures throughout the exhibition, and were activated by Paredes entering the space, the sculptures became masks, taking on a new meaning.

David Paredes, ‘At the End of my Three Stitched Steps’ 2012, part of Vitrine Live, courtesy of Vitrine Gallery


Currently on at the Vitrine and something to catch this weekend, is a two-person exhibition curated by Katherine Gardner that brings together works by Marie Angeletti and Mathis Gasser, who both explore the mechanisms of image and representation.

Marie Angleletti and Mathis Gasser ‘Installation Shot’ courtesy of Vitrine Gallery, 2012

This exhibition seems unlike any that has been at Vitrine, as the works have been directly placed on the windows itself giving the illusion they are presented on the facade of the space itself, exploring the power of the image and its ability to frame a situation, reliant only on the artist’s use of selection, reproduction quality, context and its surroundings.

Marie Angleletti ‘Installation Shot’ courtesy of Vitrine Gallery,2012

Marie Angleletti displays four photographs, three of a hotel bar and one of a jewellery shop retail display.  These miscellaneous images appear at first strangely familiar.  However Angleletti shifts their narrative by abstracting them from their original context, there is a loss of meaning by their situation together and the repeated motif of the three photographs, this seeks to displace the viewer by actively evoking the disappearance of the original subject.  The displacement created gives way to an alternative system.

Mathis Gasser ‘Installation Shot’ courtesy of Vitrine Gallery,2012

This is further negated by the situation of the works alongside Mathis Gasser’s.  Synonymously Gasser’s work also leads us to consider the autonomous life of the presented image; using modes of appropriation lifted from cultural resources, often pertaining to spectral themes.  Gasser presents six posters from the series Posters 1 – 16; based upon the posters made by American Conceptual artist Allen Ruppersberg, Gasser perpetuates his appropriation further by using the same LA based printing company used by Ruppersberg himself.  The posters advertise some of Gasser’s on going projects, such as a series of paintings entitled Heroes and Ghosts.  Reintroducing these very specific signifies into the public domain,  the slogans, despite their declaration, allude us.

Through the circulation and exchange of signs, the artists create new and counter meanings.  The images work well in situ at the gallery, outwardly projecting through the slick advertising aesthetic whilst at the same time creating an overwhelming sense of displacement.  They play into the space, and become a facade to an alternative or other meaning.  Like the emptiness within the gallery and walls these images by their sensitive placement are reduced to signs, devoid of the original meaning, that installs a resonance within the passer-by, leaving them only with their own desires to re-attach meaning.


Jeremy Willett, Apocalypstick Installation view, courtesy of Vitrine Gallery


The next show is “Dead Channel” by Jeremy Willett opening for South London’s Last Fridays 29th June 2012.  Willett will combine sculpture, 2D print work and an overlying site-responsive installation.

‘I believe in madness, in the truth of the inexplicable, in the common sense of stones, in the lunacy of flowers, in the disease stored up for the human race by the Apollo astronauts…. I believe in nothing’ JG Ballard ‘What I Believe’.

After recently meeting with the artist he offered a sneak preview of what to expect in the forthcoming show.  Willett will be creating a backdrop for the gallery space, creating a non-space, an atopia, that is surreal and unreachable.  Instead of referencing traditional painting which is about heightened realism, Willett will explore the virtual to suggest an alternate and other state, through his interweaving of the fictional construct.

He will directly paint onto the wall, and overlay hand-cut paper to mimic the computer generated patterns, working in-situ.  The bright use of colour that he often employs references to psychedelia and acid house counter cultures that seek a transcendental experience.  In front of this backdrop he will place five small scale polychromatic sculptures of wild plants.  Within his work there is a crossover between the virtual techno visuals and the natural and he further enhances this juxtaposition through his process of working.

Willett is hoping that the exhibition will work to pull the viewer in, creating an overall vision of seduction (akin to a retail shop display of a jewellers) creating an impact from a distance and a more intimate encounter when up close, where detail will be revealed.  Hopefully the exhibition will install a sense of disbelief within the viewer one that is surreal and approaches the other.

Willett describes these installations as virtual landscapes, referencing to ‘atlantis, underwater worlds and airports’ and when he first encountered the space he thought of it as a glass tank, an aquarium.

Jeremy Willett, Untitled, courtesy of Vitrine Gallery

He has further thought of display by incorporating plinths as another medium within the work, creating a new layer.  Willett has created bespoke plinths that will become part of the painting behind.  Echoing the lines within the architecture whilst seemingly floating within the space.

Willett works to enhance the idea of 3d work seen as 2d, presentation and display, which is an important point, as the work shown at Vitrine can only be seen from one perspective (front on).  This is also very salient as 3d work (sculpture) now is readily reproduced on the Internet, within various publications, taken from its original context and seen from only one angle, sculptures have become the image and this is what the exhibition enforces sculpture (3-d) as display.

Dead channel’s clever title references the recent switch over from analogue to digital, but leaves the viewer thinking of this non space, that is both unreachable and unattainable.  Succinctly stated within the press release; “a sky the colour of television tuned to a dead channel” (William Gibson, Neuromancer, 1984);


David Paredes, ‘At the End of my Three Stitched Steps’ 2012, part of Vitrine Live, courtesy of Vitrine Gallery

Vitrine is anything but the white cube, the work shown here doesn’t seek to be a permanent ‘object’ but a process, although the works are contained behind the glass windows they propel into the environment, operating “Within and Beyond the Frame” visually extending out into the square itself.  Acting as a catalyst into the everyday environment.  The interrogative and  propositional approach to curating has meant it has shown works that examine what can art be?  Would the curatorial line of inquiry have been different given a more usual space?  Alys Williams curation and the artists programmed developed so far have revitalised the meaning of space, elevating how work is encountered.


Spotlight by Chantelle May Purcell

FAD will be keeping you updated with Vitrine Gallery’s future events, exhibitions and films via the events page.

For more information please visit:


Current: Marie Angeletti I Mathis Gasser

19 May 2012 – 24 June 2012

Forthcoming:Dead Channel

Jeremy Willett

30 June 2012 – 5 August 2012


About Chantelle

Art Industry Professional specialising in art gallery management, curating, selling, commissioning and sourcing contemporary artworks. Currently Gallery Director of at

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *