Poiesis: The Exhibition

23.10.92 – 19.12.92

Featuring the works of fourteen contemporary visual artists and poets from Belgium, England, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Scotland, Spain, and the USA, Poiesis was an exhibition about the links between poetry and the visual arts. It located itself ‘within a European tradition opposed to the American preference for the ironic, laconic, the brash and the dominant, as exemplified by the techniques of Maddison Avenue’. [Ken Cockburn, Fruitmarket Gallery exhibition catalogue, 1992]

The list of artists included David Austen, Lore Bert, Thomas A. Clark, Thomas Joshua Cooper, Cristobal, Rogelio Lopez Cuenta, Simon Cutts, Gilbert Fastenaekens, Ian Hamilton Finlay, Hamish Fulton, Robert Lax, Pieter Laurens Mol, Lorenzo Nannucci and Mary Ellen Solt. Their works took the form of photographs, sculptures, lithographs, and neon lights that were presented inside and outside the Fruitmarket Gallery’s space, highlighting the interaction between the gallery and the city.

Poiesis reflected on the aspects of the poetic within the earth, considering the definition of poetry as ‘anything supremely harmonious or satisfying’. [Fruitmarket Gallery exhibition guide, 1992]. Many of the artists used text and poems directly as part of their works, such as in Ian Hamilton Finlay’s Poems on Glass, Maurizio Nannucci’s neon works, and Mary Ellen Solt’s series of observed visual poems titled Flowers in the Concrete. On the other hand, artists like photographer Gilbert Fastenakaens’ Nocturnes and David Austen’s paintings took a more indirect approach.

There was a series of workshops run by the artists around the subject of poetry which further contextualised the work. The Fruitmarket Gallery also hosted Lux Europe’s Move Over Europe artists’ conference on how to live, work, and exhibit in Europe.

Marieta Guzman – Fruitmarket Archive Intern, Goldsmiths, University of London, 2022


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