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A Modernist Cinema's Architecture Is Reworked into Filmic Collages

Laurence Kavanagh's 'March' exhibition combines memories of movies with physical impressions of the cinema to create surreal collages.

by Kevin Holmes
May 13 2016, 12:15pm

Laurence Kavanagh, 21.3.2016, 2016. Paper, black carbon, giclée print, 96 x 118 cm, Courtesy of the artist and Marlborough Contemporary. Laurence Kavanagh, March, Marlborough Contemporary, 11 May – 18 June 2016, marlboroughcontemporary.com.

When you watch a film at the theater, it's not just the movie that can have an impact, but the building you watch it in, too. Multiplexes have their own junkspace vibe, but there was also a post-war boom of art deco and modernist style buildings that survive as art house cinemas. Artist Laurence Kavanagh's latest exhibition March, currently on at Marlborough Contemporary in London, is an architectural, material, and filmic exploration of one such cinema: London's Curzon Mayfair, a Grade II-listed building built in the 1960s—it replaced the previously demolished original Curzon Mayfair built in 1934—which was designed in the modernist style by H.G.Hammond.

"What fascinated me about this cinema is that the building was designed to be like a film as the various surfaces and facades shift, move and reflect as you pass through the building," Kavanagh tells The Creators Project. "An example would be the outside of the building has a façade made of black marble. This semi-reflective surface mirrors the movement of the surrounding city, in doing so inverting the usual way we experience cinema when we sit in a darkened auditorium to watch moving images."

Installation View, Laurence Kavanagh, March, Marlborough Contemporary, 11 May - 18 June 2016, courtesy the artist and Marlborough Contemporary, London.

For the show Kavanagh has created a series of collages using digital and manual techniques, which involved taking casts from various architectural details from the building and taking rubbings of various surfaces, like the marble, mirrors, and tiles. These were taken by hand using a single sheet of paper, Kavanagh refers to these traces as an "indexical link" to the cinema. 

"This paper is then used to form objects and images based on my memory of films shown at the cinema," Kavanagh explains. "Photographs of these paper forms are taken and passed into Photoshop, and then printed. The print is then reinserted back into the original single sheet of paper to make the final piece of artwork."

The resulting artworks are like visual, fragmentary memories of the building and its usage, combining both its function, the cinematic content, and the physical surroundings to create surreal impressions and subconsciousness reflections.

"Recording the Curzon Mayfair cinema in this highly layered way results in a single still-framed artwork," notes Kavanagh. "Spending time looking at the artwork reveals these layers. As the pleats, folds and cuts emerge through this process of looking, the still image is animated. Once animated, the artwork opens up our relationship to materials and images found both in the city around us and within the screens we look into." 

Laurence Kavanagh,17.3.2016, 2016. Paper, graphite, giclée print, 100 x 92.5 cm, Courtesy of the artist and Marlborough Contemporary, London. Laurence Kavanagh, March, Marlborough Contemporary, 11 May – 18 June 2016, marlboroughcontemporary.com

Laurence Kavanagh, 12.3.2016, 2016. Paper, black carbon, giclée print, 105.5 x 138.5 cm, Courtesy of the artist and Marlborough Contemporary, London. Laurence Kavanagh, March, Marlborough Contemporary, 11 May – 18 June 2016, marlboroughcontemporary.com Laurence Kavanagh, Calendar (31.3.2016), 2016. Paper, black carbon, giclée print, 75.2 x 92.5 cm, Courtesy of the artist and Marlborough Contemporary, London. Laurence Kavanagh, March, Marlborough Contemporary, 11 May – 18 June 2016, marlboroughcontemporary.com Laurence Kavanagh, 10.3.2016, 2016. Paper, graphite, giclée print, 105.5 x 137.5 cm, Courtesy of the artist and Marlborough Contemporary, London. Laurence Kavanagh, March, Marlborough Contemporary, 11 May – 18 June 2016, marlboroughcontemporary.com

Laurence Kavanagh, 03.3.2016, 2016. Paper, graphite, giclée print, 105.5 x 139 cm, Courtesy of the artist and Marlborough Contemporary, London. Laurence Kavanagh, March, Marlborough Contemporary, 11 May – 18 June 2016, marlboroughcontemporary.com Laurence Kavanagh working at Curzon Mayfair , London, Courtesy of the artist and Marlborough Contemporary, London. Laurence Kavanagh, March, Marlborough Contemporary, 11 May – 18 June 2016, marlboroughcontemporary.com

Laurence Kavanagh's March is on May 11 to June 18, 2016 at Marlborough Contemporary, 6 Albemarle Street, London W1S 4BY. Click here to learn more. 

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