Review by Sean Williams on Our Favourite Places (here)
“Forty paintings in three distinct sizes – small, medium and large – each in the notoriously difficult square format, challenging the artist’s compositional skills. Located in both spaces in Sheffield’s excellent Cupola Gallery, Andy Cropper’s latest exhibition is essential viewing for lovers of painting and of Sheffield.
Andy is an artist who clearly relishes a challenge. Witness Construction, an impossible jigsaw puzzle of the interweaving girders and beams of a multi-storey building in the making, internal lights of various degrees of brightness poking through the gaps. It is an extraordinary painting, looking typically photographic from a distance, drawing the viewer in to reveal marks more painterly than might be expected. Patches of underpainting are allowed to create effects of diffused light, reflections and shadows; thick blobs of white for bright light and highlights; lines subtly etched into oil paint suggest mortar lines in brickwork. It is a masterly understanding of oil paint and its inherent qualities and capabilities. This knowledge is not only acquired from books, it is also from handling paint and testing it out, again and again.
This scene of construction is an unusual choice of subject matter – not least because of its staggering complexity – but is indicative of a changing city, one that threatens to leave behind some of the other places that fall under Andy’s particular gaze. In addition to being poignant snapshots of contemporary urban living these paintings also appear to be moments of epiphany for the artist, awestruck by something beyond words – a tension, a mysterious weight. He invests time and faith in the act of painting in a gentle invitation to us, the spectator, to similarly consider their psychological implications and resonances.
As a whole, Uncertain Spaces is a thorough exploration of the overlooked areas of a fascinating city, yet amongst the works on display there are nuances of the eerie atmosphere that nighttime creates. Loading Bay is a melancholic musing on an all-too-familiar scene of abandonment, with the artist wringing out details that act as clues to previous activity; Tree Silhouette, in contrast, is a delicate, sombre contemplation of life on the edge of the city, a possible metaphor for isolation, rendered in suitably restrained brushwork and of breathtaking beauty; and Welcome sees the artist give a gnarled entrance to a car-park a curious majesty, a gateway to more dark corners.”
8 June – 6 July
'kenopsia', (from the Greek, kenosis "emptiness" + opsia "seeing")
n. the eerie, forlorn atmosphere of a place that’s usually bustling with people but is now abandoned and quiet, an emotional afterimage that makes it seem not just empty but hyper-empty, with a total population in the negative, who are so conspicuously absent they glow like neon signs.
Uncertain Spaces: Kenopsia is Andy's fourth solo show created over the past few years exploring Sheffield's in-between spaces and non-places. The exhibition is composed of 'realist' paintings.
Choosing to be called a 'realist' painter instead of a 'photorealist,' Andy intentionally chooses to allow an element of painterly mark making rather than eliminating it with a blended photographic perfection.
“This project is ….trying to come out with investigations of spaces that we don’t want to look at, and trying to find something within that.” Andy Cropper
FREE artists talks: Thursday 20 June, 7:30pm
Two Sheffield based award winning artists, Joanna Whittle & Andy Cropper, share insights behind their work including; from where they draw inspiration, and possibly, a few secrets behind the actual creation of their paintings. Short informal talks followed by Q & A.
BOOKING: Although not necessary we suggest booking a place as there is limited space and seating available. Please book here via Eventbrite: http://bit.ly/artiststalks or simply call Cupola on 0114 285 2665. * please note anyone with significant mobility issues may struggle to access the venue due to stairs. We will record the talks and publish the link on our website.
Joanna Whittle studied at Central St Martins and the Royal Collage of Art and moved to Sheffield in 2017. She has already left her mark on the city via a mural commission in Kelham Island for Sheffield Industrial Museums Trust and a curated exhibition at the recently established Sidney & Matlida Gallery. Joanna is the recipient of numerous awards and was selected for the prestigious John Moores painting prize in 2018. We are delighted to be hosting her first solo show in Sheffield at Cupola Gallery in October this year. Joanna will be sharing and explaining some of the inspirations behind her paintings including but not limited to deserts, ancient forts, festivals....
Andy Cropper studied at Sheffield Hallam and lives and works in Sheffield. Andy will talk about his painting practice and how this current body of work has evolved.
“We are delighted to be able to offer visitors a chance to meet two artists happy to share extra insights into their work. No artistic knowledge is necessary and all are welcome to enjoy two informal, friendly talks by two talented Sheffield based artists. Hospitality will be provided.” Karen Sherwood, Director.