Quilla Constance aka Jennifer Allen, Transcending The Signified at the Old Fire Station

Transcending The Signified:

Quilla Constance aka Jennifer Allen

4 August - 2 September 2017
Opening Thursday 3 August, 6 - 8pm (with performance)

The Old Fire Station gallery, Oxford presents Transcending The Signified; an exhibition of paintings, costumes, live cello and non-linguistic vocal performances by interdisciplinary artist Quilla Constance aka Jennifer Allen.

This body of work explores possibilities for performing and existing beyond learned actions, languages, familiar aesthetics, and socio-cultural boundaries.

Quilla Constance's paintings employ a synergy between props, sculptures, architectural structures and performative surfaces. Here, canvases are staged both at odds with, and situated as part of the architecture within OFS gallery. Fitted around the lift and steel pillar within the space, the paintings, both intricate and imposing are set up to oscillate between sculptural and painterly interventions; whilst two larger scale paintings echo negative spaces of the 3.5metre high recessed alcoves from The Museum of Contemporary Art London where this exhibition first opened in June.

Painting for Quilla Constance is a fraught and layered process, executed through performative acts, transformative states of mind, and employing varied textures and styles. The painterly surfaces have no overt focal point, but invite the viewer to scan decorative 'exotic' patterns, energetic brush strokes, illusionistic realism and abstract glimpses of her costumes. These paintings have been executed in oil, acrylic, acrylic ink, spray paint and collage; a combination which serves to create vibrancy, eloquent movements and a frenzied tension between painterly planes.

Through her scheduled performances in the OFS gallery Quilla Constance will deliver a surprising deviation from Edward Elgar's Cello Concerto in E minor (first movement).

Performing in front of her paintings, QC's sculptural costumes conflate with these surfaces through a merging of colours and textures. Are these art works self-portraits or an abstraction of identities which suggest the performative nature of all identity and power? Is it possible for QC and indeed Jennifer Allen to transcend these (often injurious) familiar and 'exotic' surfaces? Through her frenetic interdisciplinary practice QC questions notions of cultural authenticity, challenges disciplinary boundaries, and in turn, offers a raw and fresh frame through which Allen examines the construction and negotiation of black female identities within contemporary British society and high art. Through Transcending The Signified QC invites the viewer into a dialogue through which the notion of cultural authenticity and the production of meaning is visibly and audibly contested.

About Quilla Constance:

Quilla Constance 'QC' is an 'exotic' militant punk persona created and deployed by Jennifer Allen to interrogate category driven capitalist networks and locate points of agency within systems of power. As QC, Allen stages and virally inserts aspects of her artistic practice within pop and social media culture, traversing music venues, forging street protests and entering art galleries in order to emulate, interrupt and critique the operations of these cultural zones.

Quilla Constance stages interventions across an interdisciplinary practice of paintings, installations, lectures, photographs, live performances, costumes and music videos.

Transcending The Signified is funded by Arts Council England with a related public symposium event scheduled to take place at Camberwell College of Arts, UAL, Wilson Road Lecture Theatre on Friday 23rd June 2017 (See below for details)

All Transcending The Signified exhibitions and events are open to the public and entry is free of charge.

Quilla Constance aka Jennifer Allen's previous exhibitions, screenings and performances have taken place at venues such as: The Freud Museum, The Institute of Contemporary Arts, The Royal Academy of Arts, Toynbee Studios, 176 London (Zabludowicz Collection), Modern Art Oxford, Camden Arts Centre, The Kendrew Barn (St John's College Oxford), and 198 Contemporary Arts and Learning.

Transcending The Signified – Exhibition & Events

Thursday 3 August, 6-8pm:
Exhibition opening with performance.
The Old Fire Station Gallery,
Arts at the Old Fire Station, 40 George Street, Oxford OX1 2AQ

Arts at the Old Fire Station (Gallery) Free. No booking required.

Saturday 12 August, 4-5:30pm:
QC Talk and Performance
The Kendrew Barn, St John's College Oxford, St Giles.

Free. RSVP essential.Contact: quillaconstance@live.com for directions/info

Thursday 24 August, 7-8:30pm
Performance at the Old Fire Station Gallery
Arts at the Old Fire Station, 40 George Street, Oxford OX1 2AQ
followed by Q&A with the artist.

Free. Booking required. Contact Arts at the Old Fire Station.
To reserve your place Tel: 01865 263980.


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