Event review: Dan Cimmermann’s ‘Marching On’ at RISE Gallery

By - Friday 4th November, 2016

Art that exists in the street and for the people

Photo by RISE Gallery, used with permission.

The new Dan Cimmermann show at RISE Gallery in St George’s Walk in central Croydon is a difficult one to pin down; arresting, visually stimulating, occasionally confusing, a meeting of ‘street’ and ‘studio’ that constantly offers new treats for the eye, no matter where it’s drawn.

And there is certainly a lot to draw it: the artist has been prolific for his new RISE show. Here a collection of etchings, there a wall of oil and mixed media, around the corner an explosion of colour in a series of large works that don’t so much ‘draw’ the eye as reach out, take hold and pull it in.

Many street artists move to making portable works to display in studios. But not many start, as Cimmermann has, working in a studio and move the work out to the street – reeling it all back in again for this current show. In the streets around the gallery outside, you can see his street art in all of its colour-popping glory. It sits well alongside his big indoor works like ‘Jolly Good’ and ‘Parkside Dive Bar’, with their almost graffiti-like representation, mixed in with more formal elements. The courtly lady who looms regally from the ‘dive bar’ wouldn’t be out of place in a sixteenth century studio portrait. (Though her companion looming sideways alongside her, displaying her assets, wouldn’t be as home there.)

What’s a British hero? Proud adventurer, or ruthless colonialist?

The Patriot. Photo by RISE Gallery, used with permission.

Cimmermann’s first connection with RISE came through his street art work around St George’s Walk; Kevin Zuchowski-Morrison, the gallery’s founder and mastermind, liked his style so much that he invited him to do a show. This is art as community space, art as public work – art that can’t be lifted off the walls and taken home, art that exists for the people walking past the gallery as much as the people coming in. Although clearly he’s an artist people want to take home, judging by the amount of the red ‘sold’ stickers on the indoor works. He has also painted some very large walls on the stairwells leading up from the gallery – ask nicely and you might get to see them.

This show, ‘Marching On’, explores the condition of British identity, timely in the current climate, and his sometimes faceless, often shadowy, figures convey all of the disquiet the concept of ‘identity’ conjures up right now. Originally from Yorkshire, he is fascinated with the idea of Captain Cook – another Yorkshireman – and the notion of ‘British hero’. What do those words and the concept mean to us today? Proud adventurer or ruthless colonialist? There are no easy answers, no cosy reassurances… and these works move us into that uncomfortable space.

Dan Cimmermann has exhibited extensively throughout the UK, including twice at the BP Portrait Awards; this is your first chance to see him ‘indoors’ in Croydon. Don’t miss it. It’s a show that has important, if uncomfortable, reflections on our post-Brexit society. And a show that will stay with you long after you’ve left the gallery behind.

Dan Cimmermann’s ‘Marching On’ is at RISE Gallery in St George’s Walk until Tuesday 29th November 2016. Opening hours are 10:30am – 6:00pm Tuesday to Friday, 10:30am – 4:00pm Saturdays. Closed Sundays and Mondays. 

Bernadette Fallon

Bernadette Fallon

Bernadette has been a journalist since the age of 7 when she devised, designed and launched ‘Fallon’s News’ – much to her family’s delight. Brought up in Ireland, she was born in Addiscombe where she now lives, though it took her several decades to find it again. She works as a journalist and broadcaster. Follow her at Twitter.com/bernibee

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