The exhibition combines works from two series by British artist and photographer Simon Roberts: “The Celestials” and “Cloud Negatives”.

During the global pandemic and ensuing lockdowns, satellite images released by NASA and the European Space Agency showed a dramatic drop in nitrogen dioxide emissions; the skies were clearer and bluer, and the earth was breathing again. The cyanotypes in the series “The Celestials” were created during that time, using negatives of pictures taken from plane windows during work expeditions over the preceding years. The Prussian blue of the cyanotypes, a colour that is not found in nature, is brought about by a chemical reaction that produces ferric ferrocyanide. They evoke an otherworldly, dreamlike intensity that is augmented in several cases by layering multiple negatives – creating “fictional” images and allowing us to “look at what can’t be seen”. The same is true for the large-format black and white prints in the “Cloud Negatives” series, which were made using the same negatives. Both series work with a degree of abstraction that speaks of the essence of what many people experience in our time of climate emergency: our altered states and perspectives, collective uncertainty and deepening awareness of the interconnectedness between us and the natural world.

Simon Roberts (*1974, UK) is a visual artist widely recognised for his large-format photographs of the British landscape; his practice also encompasses video, text and installation work, which interrogate notions of identity and belonging and the complex relationship between history, place and culture. He has exhibited widely, and his photographs can be found in major public and private collections, including the George Eastman House, Deutsche Börse Art Collection and the Victoria & Albert Museum. He is the author of several critically acclaimed monographs, including “Motherland” (Chris Boot, 2007), “We English” (Chris Boot, 2009), “Pierdom” (Dewi Lewis Publishing, 2013) and “Merrie Albion – Landscape Studies of a Small Island” (Dewi Lewis Publishing, 2017), his work has also been profiled and published widely including in the New Yorker, Granta, National Geographic, ARTFORUM, Wallpaper, amongst others. Roberts holds a BA Hons in Cultural Geography from The University of Sheffield and is a regular public speaker and visiting lecturer. He lives and works in Brighton, UK.

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Celebrating its 20th anniversary, Robert Morat Galerie is very happy to present the first German solo exhibition for British artist Hannah Hughes.

Hannah Hughes is a visual artist working in photography, collage, and sculpture. Her work involves strategies of fragmentation and reconstruction, focusing on the potential of negative space and the salvaging and re-use of discarded materials, where value is often found on the sidelines.

The exhibition title Solid Slip suggests a congealing of two oppositional states, where ideas of statics and flux co-exist. This proposition is reflected in a series of collages and small-scale ceramic sculptures, which appear to fluctuate between flatness and form, surface and depth. The term “Solid Slip refers to tensions inherent in hybridity on both a geological and human scale, from sub-surface slip-shifting of plate tectonics to the micro-tensions apparent in dialogues between everyday materials as they join, fuse, and overlap.

In a series of small collages, lithic shapes suggest sculptural volume within flattened space, with titles such as Lapilli and Upwarp that refer to natural transformations of liquid and solid matter. The larger collages on view further explore ideas of fusion through cuts created in their surfaces in which photographic fragments are tucked, creating interior niches within the images. The oxymoron of Solid Slip is reinforced through visual contradictions within these works – forms that overlap might also appear to pierce holes, shapes simultaneously stretch and compress, fragments erode and bolster, and shadows are both plausible and contrary.

The fragmented shapes originate from images where negative spaces surrounding figures and objects have been cut out and re-photographed to create an ongoing generative alphabet of forms. In these works, Hughes explores the conditions of presence and absence in sculptural images through reconfiguration, while also testing the structural tensions created by layers and seams, considering the nature of material memory and how materials behave as strata.

Hughess ceramic works similarly relate to spaces of absence, often casting forms in porcelain paper clay based on fragments of discarded packaging. A new series of works titled Wrap features outer stoneware structures recalling the forms of disposable containers, architectural models or miniature stages. Many of these ceramics took their starting points from niches and burial chambers at archaeological sites visited during a recent research visit to Rome, using their discreet forms as reliquaries in which cast porcelain fragments perform unspecified functions. Presented from a frontal viewpoint on wall-mounted plinths, their rear and hollow internal aspects are implied but partially concealed, reflecting the incomplete biographies of their fragmented forms.

Hannah Hughes (*1975, UK) graduated from the University of Brighton, UK in 1997 and her work has since been exhibited internationally. She is currently a PhD candidate at the University of Gloucestershire, and her practice-based research centres around processes of fragmentation and strategies of re-fitting within the areas of collage, sculptural photography and ceramic sculpture.

Her first book “Mirror Image” was published by Jane & Jeremy in 2023; and she has participated in two collaborative publications with artist Dafna Talmor,Glossaries,published by Folium in association with Sid Motion Gallery, (2023) and “Glossaries II, as part of Emic Units 1, published by Shibboleth, (2023). Her work is included in “Material Immaterial”, (2018-20) an experimental publication by Rodrigo Orrantia, which has included live presentations at Cosmos, Arles and Offprint, Paris; and “Look At This If You Love Great Photography: A critical curation of 100 essential photos” by Gemma Padley, (Ivy Press, 2021).

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