Forbidden Planet
14 January – 2 March 2012

Forbidden Planet is an exhibition that brings together four artists who examine a relationship between science-fiction and the landscape.

Originally written in 1952 as a story by Irving Block and Allen Adler titled Fatal Planet, Forbidden Planet is a science-fiction film set in the 23rd century presenting a group of explorers sent on a mission to the Planet Altair IV to investigate the fate of an earlier expedition. Forbidden Planet was the first science fiction film entirely set on another planet in deep space far away from planet Earth, and it contributed to developing our collective shared unconscious of the genre of science fiction.

Better known as a painter, Julian Grater presents in this exhibition previously unseen photographs from his research expeditions. As part of Grater's ongoing project The Lichen Factor, begun in 2002 in Canada and Alaska, the photographs in Forbidden Planet examine the imposition of extreme architecture on the polar environment of the Arctic North. In this instance, documenting the entrance and nearby surroundings to the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, which, nicknamed by the press as the ‘Doomsday Vault’, houses over half a million seed samples as a gene bank of the earth’s flora. These images of Svalbard, Norway were taken during October 2011 just hours before the onset of a Polar Night and the advent of six months of darkness.

In Tom Ormond's paintings, architectural forms and spaces are defined by light, such as in Limitless Energy, 2011. Depicting a structure which appears to be activated by light itself, it is set in a landscape at a time that is neither the conquest of a technological future nor the relic of past 'techno' failure. The painting (based on two models made by the artist from his studio debris and broken mirrors) presents a gravity defying housing complex and a Paraboloidal Solar Oven. The inherent artificiality of these model-like structures highlight the void that exists in our understanding of science; as energy is generated from 'nothing' by the invisible rays and light gather in this Solar bowl.

Stewart Gough's sculptures negotiate the redundancy of the plinth as a mode of display, integrating work and plinth as one object unified by the synthetic veneer of a laminate finish. Made from D.I.Y. and home-improvement materials, these democratised tropes of the post-industrial modern era suggest a participatory relationship to other works in the exhibition; as if these sculptures were the very props used in a low budget or early science-fiction movie such as Forbidden Planet, or perhaps recently discovered prototypes made by scientist and engineers working on a secret project.

Chris Hawtin's paintings centre around technological acceleration; the characteristic which defines our times. His paintings, such as Cloak and Veil, 2011, portray amorphous figures born out of the psyche of science fiction. Setting these protagonists against landscapes reminiscent of the Dutch 17th century painter Aelbert Cuyp, they suggest the remains of a time past and aspects of a future in collision. Through the de-territorialisation of these Alien- or Predator-like figures, Chris Hawtin asks the viewer to question our relationship to landscape in this technological era and how the notion of landscape itself has become fictionalised through the proliferation of global media, cinema and virtual environments.

Julian Grater graduated MA in Fine Art, Chelsea School of Art in 1985. Recent exhibitions have included: Biomarkers, selected works from The Lichen Factor (Oxford University Museum of Natural History) 2005, selected drawings from The Lichen Factor (Banff Centre for the Arts, Alberta, Canada) 2006 and selected paintings from The Lichen Factor (Sarah Myerscough Fine Art, London) 2009/10. Grater has participated in a number of international residency programmes at the Banff Centre and the University of Fairbanks, Alaska, under the auspices of Arts Council England funding and has been the recipient of a number of travel and research awards including The Rootstein Hopkins Foundation.

Tom Ormond. Born Derbyshire, UK, 1974. Graduated MA Fine Art, Goldsmiths College, University of London, 2005. Recent exhibitions include: The Future Can Wait (Ellis and Rumley Projects) 2011, Anthology (Charlie Smith Gallery) 2011, Fraternise (curated – Beaconsfield), Marmite Art Prize (The Nunnery), Public Private Paintings (curated – Mu ZEE, Brussels), Make Room: Interventions into the Garman Ryan Collection (curated – New Art Gallery, Walsall), DEPOT (curated – Vulpes Vulpes), Surface Warp Factor (Fieldgate at Aubin Gallery), Circuit Diagram (curated – Cell Project Space), In the Darkest Hour, There Will be Light (curated – Damien Hirst at Serpentine Gallery). Recent solo exhibitions include – Alison Jacques Gallery, London, 2008. Awarded Boise Travel Scholarship 2007. Winner Anthology Art Prize, 2011.

Stewart Gough. Born Leeds, UK. 1977. Graduated MA Fine Art, Goldsmiths College, University of London, 2005. Recent exhibitions include: The Thing is The Thing (ASC Gallery), Electric Sheep (Collyer Bristow Gallery), Stewart Gough – Privet Topiary (The Bunhouse); On Becoming a Gallery – Part Three (Angus Hughes Gallery), Terminator (Camberwell Project Space), DEPOT (curated – Vulpes Vulpes), Surface Warp Factor (Aubin Gallery), Dawnbreakers (John Hansard Gallery), DETOX 2010 (Concrete Allotment Projects).

Chris Hawtin. Born Ely, UK, 1974. BA Hons Fine Art (Painting), Chelsea College of Art and Design 1999. Recent Exhibitions include: Chris Hawtin and Miles Thurlow (Malgras Naudet, Manchester) 2011, Project PIGS Case (Supermarket Art Fair, Stockholm and Studio SKOUZE3, Athens) 2011, Polar Union (Denman Arts, London) 2010. Publications: magazine issue 44, Chris Hawtin, Work and Word, April 2011. David Ryan, Transitions/Abstractions, Music: Red Horses of the Snow – Territories (Flashback records), 2011.

Juan Bolivar is a London based artist / curator. Forbidden Planet is his 20th curated project.

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