CEPT – Galaxy Rays Show

The Long Arm Gallery
Bridewell St, Bristol,
20 Feb – 13 March 2009

all photos: Howaboutno and NoLionsInEngland

It seems like moments ago that Cept and Mike Ballard got up with a joint show in a Dalston, London workshed yet here we are 4 months later and half a world away in former police station in Bristol for Cept’s new solo show.

You’re nicked! – photo NoLionsInEngland

As in the London show, CEPT hangs gorgeous canvasses on the walls and indulges himself and us with a variety of mixed media installations. A vertical stack of TV screens inside a cage-door lift greets visitors timidly crossing the ex-cop shop threshold, flickering black and white film loops backed with crackling American voices issue barked ultimatums and set a jagged and staccato tone for the show.

photo: Howaboutno

Those familiar with previous Christmas group shows at the Bridewell St police station will need to know that the cells downstairs are not in use, though the rooms that are open retain a strong institutional spartanism. The main gallery room is shared between a collection of canvasses and a swirling wall painting. The wall painting echoes the style of the Dalston illusion room but is a minor fanfare for the half height cubby hole entrance to the installation room beyond.

photo: Howaboutno
Neither the sharp lines of the wall painting nor the strong colours of the canvasses in the main space can explain the dissonant industrial hum that fills the space, it permeates through from the direction of the next room but the half height door ensures that there is no preview of what lies inside, so the process of entering the room maximises the impact.

“Laplace Transforms” – photo: Howaboutno

Dalston’s illusion room was an empty and irregular shaped chamber twisted and distorted by Cept’s perspective juggling wall, ceiling and floor painting. This time, the space is filled by “Laplace Transforms” a bizarre sonic sculpture. Inside a glass fronted pyramid is a record player playing a piece of 7 inch vinyl literally to death – the needle has been replaced by a scalpel blade and a microphone picks up the scrapping of the record’s grooves, the signal passes through a voice changer and the amplified drone feeds back through the mic. In a cheeky nod to the artists’ graff origins the scene is illuminated by a spraycan lamp. It might assist interpretation to understand that Laplace transforms are mathematical operators that make differential equations even easier, used in among other things sound wave mechanics. Perhaps not.

“Laplace Transforms” detail – photo: Howaboutno
The pyramid shape of the sculpture references the All-Seeing Eye. Galaxy Rays from the painting above the record player erupt out of the all-seeing eye, cross the floor of the room in all directions, and talk across the room to a painted Transformer Sun King, the clever link being Ra as all seeing eye linked to a Sun King, Sun-Ra being one of the artist’s fav jazz musicians.

Sun King + Laplace Transforms– photo NoLionsInEngland
Whilst the eye takes in all the details and the mind spins, the ears start to pick up all kinds of slowly meandering harmonics in the audio. The gloom, the strong lines across the room and the textured relief in the floor all combine to knock senses off balance and make eyeballs pulsate, these effects are essential to the full immersive experience though you should bail before the diggery-doo aural illusion kicks in.

The main gallery contains a modest seven canvasses. The paintings are tense and dramatic and, with one notable exception, finishes are clean and glossy. The All Seeing Eye and Galaxy Ray motifs appear significant in several canvasses.

“Omega Supreme”, photo: Howaboutno

The Cept Super Villain’s spiral of despair continues, his face appears bleak and bitter, until he disappears in a series of body ripping explosions.

“The Cult Of The Explosion”, photo: Howaboutno
The exception mentioned is this gorgeously grimy Super Villain portrait.

“Kyoto Crush” – photo NoLionsInEngland
A hunt through the adjacent admin office reveals a small number of painted album covers and a stack of prints and the installation room has a number of exercises in geometric patterns, and errrrr drips.

A flick through the pile of prints reveals a remarkable degree of individual variation thanks to the swirls of colour and bits of text added by the artist before the screenprint was applied, they look so varied as to be almost a numbered series of uniques.

“The Cult Of The Explosion” print. – photo NoLionsInEngland

A personal favourite among the paintings in the Surface Noise room is Transit Minds, the pyramid picks up on the show’s theme of the Galaxy Rays source whilst drips which defy logic to run both up and down make the red strip resemble a fat, pulsing noise readout on an oscilloscope display.

“Transit Minds” – photo NoLionsInEngland

We are getting accustomed to Cept’s shows having a coherence as a whole and an un-deniable beauty too, successfully differentiating him from most of the paint-drip-hang-sell urban artists. The bulk of the work connected with the show has been done after a short breather following the October show, Cept is un-doubtedly surfing a burst of creative power at the moment, let’s look forward to that energy being channelled back to the streets sometime soon.

Howaboutno’s photos are an institution. He should be in one. See more of his Cept Galaxy Ray photos here.

NoLionsInEngland’s point and click pics from the show are here.

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