Monday, 10 June 2013

Art exhibition launch: Richard Combes @ 2022NQ, 07.06.13

The mid-evening sun is beaming down outside, a glowing tangerine full of zest. Inside 2022NQ, a back room exhibition space offers cool respite from the rays. The stained tiles retained from its past as a textiles mill maintain a fittingly sombre temperature for Manchester-born oil painter Richard Combes's work that hangs from girders and walls.

That day's MEN previewed the exhibition and included curator Heather Gilberthorpe's opinion that, "There was something about the soul of 2022NQ that resonated with Richard’s work."

Indeed, the choice of location proved appropriate as 2022NQ's sparse, whitewashed walls and deep-set roof window alcoves seamlessly merge with the larger canvasses covering scenes of washrooms and latrines, giving a detailed intensity to settings often dismissed as mundane and all too everyday. The true intricacy of Combes's brushes breathes an unexpected life into these simple scenes displayed in an equally simple and uncluttered venue. As a result, the carefully selected paintings stand out and draw eyes towards them whilst also blending into the exhibition room, never out of place.

Notably, 'Bathroom Mirror' (P46 in issue 5 of Now Then Manchester magazine) shines in a new light with a beguiling focus being afforded to its mid-canvas loo roll when viewed in paint rather than the printed page.

Elsewhere, there are other isolated objects depicted - from boxes to bottles, boots to brushes - and paintwork framing images of often desolate and distressed urban landscapes, with road markings, alleys and discoloured streetside brick walls among Combes's collection on display.

In the main room, The Slow Club have found space for their amplifiers afore the backdrop of the venue's After Work Social Twitter feed (#AWSNQ), which later provides its share of giggles as audience members air their anonymous thoughts between the emotively delivered folk-pop love songs and laments.

Words and photography*: Ian Pennington.
*Apart from photo #4 by Heather Gilberthorpe.

The exhibition continues until 14th June at 2022NQ.

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