“Dreams & Nightmares” Exhibition

If you’ve ever been into the Hillside building on Beeston Road you will have walked past and hopefully looked at the painting in the reception. “Bees Magic and Holy Beck” is a triptych by Bruce Rimell, commissioned for the opening of Hillside in 2008. It is a colourful and unique celebration of the rich and diverse past, present and futures  of people and places in Beeston and Holbeck.

Here guest blogger Sue Talbot reviews Bruce’s latest exhibition:

Whether you’re a culture vulture or, like me, feel you don’t really know the first thing about Art, Bruce Rimell’s exhibition “Dreams and Nightmares” at the Design Innovation Centre on The Calls is a must-see this June.

Winner of the 2010 Artsmix Emerging Artist Award, Bruce is a largely self-taught local artist working with acrylic, ink and marker pens on canvas to produce some of the most exciting, joyous and disturbing images around (in my humble opinion…)

Influenced by exotic-seeming Aboriginal, Mayan and shamanistic traditions, as well as graffiti-art, Bruce transforms the visions, dreams and nightmares of a personal crisis into intricately executed, colourful and compelling paintings, rich with symbols and layers of meaning.  Anyone who, like Bruce (and me), suffers from migraines, will recognise and understand the fragmentation, ‘gaps’, intangible dots-and-lines of visual disturbance that characterise his style of painting and drawing.

My personal favourites were two – at first sight very different – images: Xibalba Song and Democratic Warfare. The first imagines a riddling conversation between a lord of the Mayan Underworld (Xibalba) and a soul in search of re-birth. It reminded me very much of Ghost Dances (choreographed by Christopher Bruce for Ballet Rambert), a piece of contemporary dance that takes as its subject the socialists, trades unionists, poets and artists slaughtered in Pinochet’s 1973 military coup in Chile. But in contrast to the bleak vision of Ghost Dances, where there seems no hope and no redemption, Bruce’s soul is in the process of out-witting Death and being re-born.

To my mind, Democratic Warfare stands apart from most other pieces in the exhibition.  Although created during the same period of inner turmoil, sleeplessness and personal change, it is a more overtly ‘political’ work, and concerned with the world outside – perhaps marking the artist’s completion of his inner journey and a renewed capacity to orient on the welfare of other beings.  Be that as it may, given recent news items about ‘the use of ‘drones’ and ‘cyber-warfare’,  his vision of computer-directed warfare , the destructive possibilities of technology and their impact upon the ordinary citizens of this world could not be more current and contemporary.

Dreams and Nightmares: Thursday 2nd June – Thursday 30th June : Design Innovation Centre, 46 The Calls, Leeds, LS2 7EY

Sue Talbot