I interviewed Tom Kemp for DogmaNet last Saturday. He’s a great chap to talk to: he has very few preconceptions, a lot of ideas, is educated and literate, and is skilled and experienced enough to know how to begin to achieve what he wants to achieve: none of us are quite experienced enough to know how to finish the whole thing, or what would be the point? A bit disconcerting is his fascination with the written word, with me trying the usual interviewer trick of making eye-contact while making notes, only to find him staring at my pen.
His exhibition, “The Definition of Art” at the OVADA gallery just off Gloucester Green, isn’t really anything to do with his definition of art as such: rather, that’s the premise from which he springboards into an artistic analysis of the act of writing. Writing, he argues, is so successful at sucking us into the meaning beneath it that we can only ever analyse the abstract design or the semantics it represents: skimming the surface that this sucking-through machine creates is an unstable intellectual act. Art provides us with a mechanism of aesthetic reasoning, an area of thought where we can move to, untangle the mess of what writing is, then somehow move back into the realm of logical reasoning and gain insight from the journey.
Anyway, even if I wasn’t reasonably acquainted with the man, I’d still recommend you go. It’s free, it’s fresh (with a new work every day), and it rediscovers Michaux and Pollock through typographical investigations. And it’s free. Free.
“The Definition of Art” is on at the OVADA gallery 9–27 August, 2005. Opens office hours, plus Thursday evenings and Saturdays.