Borders and boundaries appear to be in season these days. Yet fluidity of national borders, national identities, national ideas, is central to difference and central to art. In fact, boundaries are antithetical to art, which allows for change, the new, the unknown. By being willing to accept things we do not know we offer the world our hand. If we are hopeful, we will not assume the world will bite us like a rabid dog. If we are fearful, we will wear a glove and never touch, share or feel a thing. Hands that never see daylight, feel air or touch other living things eventually shrivel, become gangrenous, and die.
Connectivity – as a space for sharing and exchange – is the doorway to diversity, to welcoming diverse ways of thinking, being, doing, and changing the way things are as a result; and diversity – as a platform for the new, as a platform for all this – is the air that art, culture and new thinking lives on. Connectivity and diversity are two sides of the same coin and they both do the same thing: break down boundaries and create change. Ask Patrick who co-founded Gabriel Fine Arts and he’ll tell you, probably twice: ‘creativity has no boundaries’.
The only way we can prevent the world from crushing difference, crushing art, is to ceaselessly encourage and celebrate diversity; diversity of thought, diversity of people, diversity of art and the connections we can make between people.
Gabriel Fine Arts aims to create a space where people from around the world can join in their shared appreciation of creativity, connectivity, art and diversity. Art and Emotion (one of their recent exhibitions) had 26 artists from around the globe (big up Guatemala!); this Autumn will see Haitian art, the art of politics, and in this opening, Intersection, more artists from around the world with different ideas that challenge us. Among the many things that we need at the moment, it’s to be challenged.
The gallery is now based in Canary Wharf, a boats throw away from the trade routes of the past through which England begged, borrowed and stole its polyglot of identities from other countries, peoples and cultures. The language we speak, the thoughts we think in here in London, are a cauldron of past and present cultures from other parts of the planet. This place has been a part of that for centuries: an intersection, where many paths meet. We are going to celebrate that, and through art, keep connecting, keep diversifying, keep challenging, keep creating.
Art, like thought, is about making connections. Connections both vulgar and pure; connections with people, with place; connections of the mind. Connectivity can propagate the same by increasing the means of consolidating a collective identity, or it can bring difference together into a shared space and welcome it, giving different people, cultures and ideas a bit of space.
We live in a time dominated by the former, but, leaving that to facebook, art in the latter breaks down conceptual, intellectual and creative boundaries by questioning them nakedly (think R. Mutt). Some of this, after a time, crosses over into the social body, dissipating boundaries as new ideas spread and doors are opened in people’s minds to the possibility of other ways of thinking, creating, and living; or even just the possibility of other doors at all. Thus art makes boundaries fluid. But when times are harder, people poorer, voices shriller and communities more isolated, fluidity and nuance recede; borders get rebuilt; simple, straightforward ways of thinking are seized – there’s no blunter weapon than a soundbite (ahem) – and people have less time and space for difference, less time and space for art.
Saffron Harper Gow 'Summer Country Living'
Intersection, where two paths meet, opens on 9th September at Gabriel Fine Arts, 15 Skylines Village, Limeharbour, London, E14 9TS.