Neil HaasSpunky Clipper
11 March—23 May 2017
Opening: 10 March, 6pm
Almanac is thrilled to present Spunky Clipper, the first solo exhibition by British artist Neil Haas.
Lying on the floor, sitting on a pile of pallets, having a chat and a cigarette, some guys are hanging out in the exhibition space. Their monumentality and poses recall modernist sculptures, but revealing mutilated bodies and the fragile nature of their constructions, both as historical references and in their materiality. Their identity is split between the eroticism of mythological figures, young men resting after work or the brutal representation of disfigured veterans. Presence both real and realized.
Haas’s work questions the normativity presented in the Western history of art. His practice explores issues related to sexuality and representation, subverting and expanding the narratives of art historical imagery, which he re-elaborates and re-reads through a queer perspective. He inserts fictional elements or revisits historical art forms and styles, re-establishing and asserting his subjectivity on iconic representations of freedom and expression through pictorial and sculptural interventions.
Suspended blinds, used as canvases, alter the structure of the space. Functioning as architectural elements and screens, these pieces work as stage for the narrative of the show. Their angle, which changes filtering the light and the viewer’s vision, effects the perception of the images, revealing the pictures behind, the sculptures and including the audience in the narrative of the show.
My spunky Clipper is a present from Joe.
I don’t smoke much and ask for a light a lot. A week later I give it to Ricky. Ricky is from Jamaica and cold in november standing outside and we laugh because we’re new and cold and I don’t know him at all so can’t think of anything to say when he likes my spunky Clipper so I give it to him.
I miss it for a bit getting sick of hot guys asking me for a light if i had a light I can talk to them longer and watch their faces close now just inches plus not far. and make them come closer if it goes out and hold it keep it low and make them shake it to make it work.
that’s one way to talk.
On the street outside the station
I miss it for a bit and buy another one. I could buy the cheap one in the shop but he calls it a cheap one and I see a spunky Clipper and say no not the cheap one not the colour one not the orange one. the white one.
Spunky Clipper is like normal Clipper but is grey and white milky cold a bit see through.
At school in some Jean Genet books people smoke a lot in between stealing things and crying over and having more sex. One person a character smokes Craven A and now obsessed with Craven A and have to have a packet but too scared to ask in same way want a Durex just to touch one and smell one maybe try one on but won’t ask. I’m looking for the shop where you don’t ask but choose off a shelf in front of counter and walk up with money and don’t talk just thanks bye.
Still school not Elm Street new Executive houses on estate en suite next door neighbour away almond cream bedroom mahogany drawers. stroke cat check house turn lights on at night.
3 Durex steal 1.
Never find shop so buy herbal cigarettes at health food shop or maybe in Chinatown can’t remember. But can’t smoke they smell something else and get thrown out.
Looking for this shop lots of buses and trains. On train not cruising never cruising see guy with t-shirt logo surfey melting. Look round lots of times again to see it looks how I think it looks when first see it. still melty same. look again. Up to 20 times 20 minutes. I leave train he leaves train. at bus stop let’s go round corner I can still speak and No. Freaks I get on bus go home cry.
Beauty, so it seems at least, had to be crystallized into a green or violet powder and puffed by some celestial syringe down the fringed channels that lay behind his nostrils before it touched Flush’s senses; …Where Mrs Browning saw, he smelt; where she wrote, he snuffed.
Virginia Woolf, Flush
Offering your home to fellow artists to show their work is a generous, time consuming and cohesive enterprise. It is a token of appreciation of a practice and, ultimately, it builds an identity among a group of artists. But depending on your appraisal, it can also be perceived as a creepy initiative. After all, it is staging a contrived dialogue between artworks and one’s own intimacy: a literal domestication of an artist’s production. As long as this exposure is beneficial for the “guest”, such an invitation will put the artist in a position of possibly having to return the favour. By accepting or declining the invitation, the artist will inevitably enter, and submit his or her work to, an unspoken and unspeakable contract of hospitality.
We artists bring the word “fuss” to an entirely new level. While we endlessly indulge our fussiness when elaborating on our needs and inclinations, we also extend it to a great care for the well-being of our friends: dispensing advice, thoughtful recommendations and recipes, initiating cool debates about the redeeming sublimation of precariousness. And then art, like speech bubbles, crawls its way through the cracks and cavities of our domesticities. Some of these bubbles might burst their way out and some might well find grace in confinement.
Yet London is vast and can provide many occasions for beatitude. Sometimes, to exorcise a temporary artistic prostration, Neil Haas leaves his bike at home and walks from his flat on Golden Lane to his studio in South Bermondsey. He then takes on Laurie Anderson’s simple “switching articles” trick for producing stories: the one that consists of replacing the particular “the” with the generic “a”, so that the road to the studio becomes a road and opens itself to extensive narratives and sometimes surprising gifts. He daydreams of masculine energy, greek columns and swollen trunks, cut-outs from magazines, slightly nostalgic imagery with DIY beats that play again his very own romantic journey from the North to Manchester’s Flesh nights to vibrant London.
He and I have said horrible things to each other, but it’s cool now. We first met in College in the painting studios where I was strolling around. It was a very exciting time, but the school was more difficult to handle for some than for others, and it didn’t always end as well as it began. The tuition fee rates, established in 2010 at a segregating rate, twisted the priorities of the institution at large in ways that were very obvious to us, yet their policies of repression were still unpredictable. In a social circle driven by privileges and guilt, Neil Haas always challenges - sometimes at his expense - what is “in principle” available to him.
Very keen on the painter-with-a-muse situation, Neil Haas forms exclusive and tender bonds within his group of friends. Overtly assumed, these spirited rituals of fetishisation are integral parts of his practice. Though, from time to time, the framework cracks under too much confusion and heated moods and before he knows it, something is off. Cast out of love as much as it is cast out of fury, his work bears the bisected idea of confrontational vulnerability. Neil Haas is a preacher, shouting at us, with red-blood eyes and drool around his mouth, trying to wash our shame away.