press release

Chisenhale Gallery presents a major solo exhibition by Glasgow-based artist Michael Fullerton. Columbiacomprises a new series of sculptures, paintings, wall-mounted screen prints and moving image works. Examining a range of themes including intelligence systems, the power of aesthetics and the private and public histories of political intrigue, the works are presented together in a museum-like installation.

'Columbia' serves as a guiding iconic device throughout the exhibition, allowing Fullerton to explore concepts as various as discovery, colonial endeavour, the machinations of power and the construction of corporate identity. For Fullerton 'Columbia' at once conjures the feminine personification of the USA, a famous space shuttle, and the explorer Christopher Columbus, as well as Columbia Pictures and the 'Eye Device' logo of the CBS television network which suggests both the act of looking and of being watched.

The paintings, which characteristically for Fullerton engage with the form of 18th Century portraiture, will continue Fullerton's interest in painting figures who embody political commitment or represent strong ideological positions, here including figures such as Alan Turing, the developer of modern computer science juxtaposed with a contemporary SAS soldier. Thomas Gainsborough and his paintings of a political elite are a key reference point, as is a preoccupation with modes of recording and transmitting information.

Fullerton will also continue his distinct use of materials, oil paint or ferric oxide for example. The latter – the magnetic coating of analogue cassette tape recording becoming the 'substance' of information – in this instance a recording of the 1980 Iranian Embassy siege in London. The relationship between power, the aesthetic and the symbolic in contemporary cultural representation is combined with Fullerton's interest in chemical experimentation, alchemy for want of another term. The transformation of inert matter into meaningful signs and symbols, the power of pleasure and art as a means of social and political agency

To accompany the exhibition Fullerton will produce a new limited edition print which will be available to buy from Chisenhale Gallery or via the website. All proceeds from sales go towards the gallery's exhibitions, events and education programmes.

This is Michael Fullerton's first major presentation in a public gallery since exhibitions at the Centre for Contemporary Art Glasgow and Art Now, Tate Britain in 2005. He is included in the British Art Show opening in October 2010 at Nottingham Contemporary.

Michael Fullerton (b. 1971, Bellshill, Scotland) studied at the Glasgow School of Art and is currently based in Glasgow. He has had solo exhibitions at Carl Freedman Gallery, London (2007), Greene Naftali Gallery, New York (2006), Art Now, Tate Britain, London (2005), CCA Glasgow (2005) and Transmission Gallery, Glasgow (2003). Recent group exhibitions include Unreliable Witness, Tramway, Glasgow (2008), Stay Forever and Ever and Ever, South London Gallery (2007) and the Tate Triennial, Tate Britain (2006).

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Michael Fullerton
Kurator: Clarrie Wallis