The exhibition title, ‘Aporia’, refers to the state of being at an impasse in an inquiry, caught in seemingly irresolvable internal contradictions and paradoxical positions. For Stuart Mel Wilson these are the contradictions that exist between the aspirations of the artist and realities of working in an age in which art has been knocked off the pedestal it once stood upon as an exemplar of the ‘highest’ virtues. In this time of the throw away, the passing fad, and the ephemeral in art, Wilson sets himself the task of mimicking the scale, grandeur and the intensity of labour of The Old Masters.

This task is complicated by Wilson’s injection of a commentary on contemporary society and the role of art today. Ideas of labour and craft are intertwined with those of science and philosophy in an attempt to puncture and subvert the viewer’s preconceptions on the distinction between the certainty of facts and the aesthetic constructions of art. His intention is to prompt, through the use of humour and absurdity, an anxious realisation that all meaning is provisional and not universal or absolute.

Wilson references the paintings of the European Renaissance, a time in history when art had a central and exalted status in culture. He examines the contradictions and paradoxes in the idea of the artist as a ‘Master’ when one of the principle roles of the art object in today’s international art world often seems to function as a method of displaying wealth and asserting social status.

In ‘Aporia’ Wilson divides the gallery space in two to explore the essential dichotomy of his practice. In one room, he focuses on the contemporary ideas of drawing as installation – an exploration of space – the work creating an environment and narrative in interaction with the audience. In the second room, he shows a grand triptych in the vein of classical or Renaissance art, an homage not only to the historical position of art as high culture but also to indicate the possibility of finding an art that transcends the vagaries and caprice of our times.

Stuart Mel Wilson was born in Gateshead in 1986 and lives in Newcastle upon Tyne. He undertook National Diploma in Fine Art at Newcastle College, 2004-06, and BA Hons Fine Art at Goldsmiths College, University of London, 2006-09. Solo exhibitions include ‘The Full Sentence’, Abject Gallery, Newcastle upon Tyne, and ‘Faux-Pas’, Foyer Gallery, People’s Theatre, Newcastle upon Tyne (2018). Group shows include ‘I did it myself’, Bussey Building, London (2013), ‘Nepotism’, Bussey Building, London (2011), and ‘Nicotine Memories’, The Talbot, London (2009-10).

Artist Talk

Stuart Mel Wilson will be talking about his work in the gallery, 2-3.30pm on Saturday 23 March.