Ode to Formation

By Simon Maidment

A cat­a­logue essay for Ode to Form, an exhi­bi­tion at West Space, curated by Kelly Fleidner.

Full text on the Ode to Form web­site: Ode to For­ma­tion 

Excerpt from About the exhi­bi­tion:

The exhi­bi­tion Ode to form took Roman­tic Con­cep­tu­al­ism as it’s depar­ture point, work­ing against the notion of the ‘con­cep­tual’ as a closed sys­tem con­trolled by intel­lec­tual heroes, whilst spoil­ing the sub­lime of Roman­ti­cism itself. Ode to form attempted to explore and encap­su­late the ten­sion between the two oppos­ing but preva­lent asser­tions in con­tem­po­rary art; that a con­cep­tual, cool, deper­son­al­i­sa­tion is a pre­con­di­tion of an art that makes itself check­able and revis­able, whilst cel­e­brat­ing the repo­si­tion­ing of the “artist’s hand” within the con­cep­tual frame­work of con­tem­po­rary art itself. Ode to Form light-heartedly acknowl­edged of the pit­falls of romanticising—in that sense, ren­der­ing sublime—that sin­gle indi­vid­u­al­ity, the “artist’s soul”, itself, aim­ing to strip away any pre­ten­sion that the artist’s soul is a medium of the oth­er­worldly or godly (while allow­ing a sense of tragi­comic mourn­ing for that sec­u­lar­i­sa­tion to linger on).

Excerpt from Simon Maidement’s essay:

There is a ques­tion though, and this is directly related to con­sid­er­ing this man Belle presents us, as to whether the under­stand­ing of the self is sim­i­lar. He embod­ies an intense sense of self, that much is clear, and in con­sid­er­ing these works by Belle I do have a sense of a rejec­tion of any uni­ver­sal­is­ing sys­tem – both by the sub­ject and author of the works – with instead move­ment and indi­vid­u­al­ity com­ing to the fore. Again, in ref­er­ence to the exhibition’s field of enquiry, we can ask whether this sub­jec­tiv­ity has been forged in the intense explo­ration of the rad­i­cal indi­vid­u­al­ist spirit we asso­ciate with the Roman­tic move­ment and phi­los­o­phy, or one entwined with, and in rela­tion to, a com­mu­nity of oth­ers, still engaged with the world(s) of others.