Whitehot Magazine

‘Vampire-Junkie’ at Rose Easton in London UK

Callum Jones, The exact moment Kim Deal’s voice cracks, 2024, Ink on Hahnemühle Etching Paper, framed, 46 x 59 x 3 cm, 18 ⅛ x 23 ¼ x 1 ⅛ in, Paper size - 39.6 x 53.2 cm, Courtesy of the artist and Rose Easton, London, Photo by Jack Elliot Edwards 


By ESME BLAIR March 25, 2024

Blue Marcus’ curatorial debut ‘Vampire-Junkie’ opened at Rose Easton on Wednesday 13th March, 2024. With Nasa’s golden record as the impetus for the show, Marcus presented works by Samuel Guerrera, Hampus Hoh, Callum Jones and Scott Keightley. The correspondence across the work between the four artists convened in arcane environments, winking objects which glimmer with the benign function they were invented for and a reverberating sonic quality, despite the lack of any sound actively playing. 

The exhibition takes its effervescent title from a phenomenon identified by Mark Fisher describing contemporary addiction, which he labels vampiric in its insatiable desire. The ‘Vampire-Junkie’ in this instance is applied to the consumption of images, which Marcus fleshes out in relation to the featured artists further in an essay to be published alongside the show. 

Hampus Hoh’s Auxiliary Scape is an elegant assemblage of thin metal door locks, pear wood French horn and trumpet mouthpieces with a layer of glass which acts as the support between the fixtures. The outline of the metal door locks are laid out cartographically positing an alternate map of an urban area in Stockholm which Hoh describes as ‘charged with personal synchronicities and ideological tensions.’ The discontinuous circuit is juxtaposed by the eccentrically shaped conical mouth pieces taken from instruments belonging to his grandfather which invite a passing of air through the threshold. The glass leans against a wall so as to prove its weight while bringing a floating aspect to the work that invites a closer inspection thanks to the appealing illusion of hovering objects one gets when looking from afar. 

Hoh often works via a subtractive process; by peeling back the layers of the objects and materials he works with, revealing their inner parts. The multi-point locks in Auxiliary Scape were taken from the doors of an old apartment building he used to live in, located in the aforementioned area in Stockholm. ‘The locks are about as tall as I am, but much thinner. The function of their orthograde nature is akin to a skeleton or scaffolding, preventing a door from warping. Through their insulating effect, they simultaneously prevent the flow of air between interior and exterior space.’  Intrinsic mechanical rhythms tussle with currents of breath, urban planning, and participation in sonic space. Hoh described the chosen construction materials as the ribcage of the building; the reciprocity between the sensorial body, home and city is central to the work, and eloquently deployed here.

Samuel Guerrero’s painting Prayers of the million inhabitants is void of the amassing of bodies the stadium environment evokes. We are aware of a resounding echo in the velvety flood-lit environment painted in acrylic. As the viewer we are sat within the structure from a high vantage point so as to admire the geometric emphasis which is subsuming and almost yonic. There is a great poetry in the stillness of Guerrero’s painting which is constructed from simple circular lines, strewn like bracelets of light in the dusky/dawny time of day. We get a glimpse of the fading light in the sky from beneath an eyelid-like roof functioning as an opening evocative of an ‘other side’. The mood one gets from looking at this sublime space in small wall-hung format is as though we are at day’s end on a Busby Berkeley-era film set; the stage has been cleared, the cast and crew left for home, leaving us as the last person present, glancing one last time before turning out the lights.

Samuel Guerrero, Revelación en la inmensidad, 2023, Acrylic on canvas, 116 x 196 x 5 cm, 45 ⅝ x 77 ⅛ x 2 in, Courtesy of the artist and Lodos, Mexico City, Photo by Jack Elliot Edwards

Callum Jones is perhaps most aptly the consumer of images in relation to Marcus’ ‘Vampire-Junkie’. The exact moment Kim Deal’s voice cracks features a crowd of people staring back at us; an unnerving feeling which is soothed by the subsequent realisation that they are craning their necks, allowing us a resolve in the dominant gaze from above. 

Jones shared that the pictures he creates originate from a large archive of images he is ever collecting from stills and screenshots taken from various visual checkpoints. He reworks his recycled pictures by editing and then feeding them through printers until they get to a suitably marred stage which communicate as much as they hide. There is emphasis placed on preservation in the process undertaken by Jones who bleeds the ink through the paper so it appears on the other side. This work is busied and twittering with several voices. The embroilment of the multiple on screen (on paper) characters is combined with the fog produced by the re-printing process. We look at this composition and decide whether to dig for what’s beneath or ruminate on the frothy surface. 

Scott Keightley, Amid a Place of Stone, 2021. UV print on Manhasset music stands, finials, knobs, chandelier crystal, LED, stand lights. 163 x 52 x 38 cm, 64 1⁄8 x 20 1⁄2 x 15 in(dimensions variable) Courtesy of the artist and Rose Easton, London, Photo by Jack Elliot Edwards.

Scott Keightley’s beguiling clustered music stands are made up of a seemingly arbitrary selection of objects: doorknobs, battery lighting like tiny lampposts and a satisfyingly two-dimensional print of a metronome app on a phone screen atop carefully selected pieces of sheet music. Keightley’s wife is a concert violinist; ‘the compositions in these works came from an interest in the way she sets up her music stand to practice. I want to give the viewer a window into her world. I like to include things like the handwritten markings on her music, an iPhone with a metronome app open -things that every musician uses but most people do not normally see.’ The music stand provides a very cogent frame; we look at it as though we would a standing easel- which typically functions to aid the unfinished stage of an artwork as it remains to be worked on in the studio setting- akin to that of the pre-performance musical rehearsals suggested by the notes and metronome displayed on the stand. 

Hampus Hoh, Auxiliary Scape, 2024, Reinforced glass, door locks, pear wood French horn and trumpet mouth, pieces, stainless steel bolts, 190 x 99 x 12.4 cm 74 ¾ x 39 x 4 ⅞ in, Courtesy of the artist and Rose Easton, London, Photo by Jack Elliot Edwards

Keightly disclosed his attraction to the fixtures and clear doorknobs is due to their ability to fracture what we are looking at; ‘If I make an illusory object I feel it’s necessary, and satisfying, to break the illusion as well.’ In Amid a Place of Stone, Keightley brings showmanship to the music stand with a waterfall of chandelier pendants that clink both softly in our ears and before our eyes. Sets of keys are also dangling from the back- the accumulation of objects spotted builds a chaos; the music stand becomes near unrecognisable, struggling with what it has been asked of.

‘Vampire-Junkie’ presented the works by the four artists as the reworked residue of contemporary visual culture, reorganised or perhaps re-confused into pieces across sculpture, print and drawing. The range of work in pursuit of a contemporary but forward looking phenomenon made for the desire to likewise await in anticipation of what Marcus will be doing next. WM


Esme Blair

Esme Blair is an Art writer and painter based in London and Paris. Having studied painting at Central Saint Martins onto an Undergraduates degree at Goldsmiths, her writing is often written through the artists’ perspective. She gained her Masters degree in Paris graduating in 2021, going on to curate a show at Pal Projet a year later. Currently she is working with artists across France and England collaborating, curating and writing.

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