Review of ‘Painting Show’ – Eastside Projects

This is a review of Eastside Projects’ ‘Painting Show’ – on until the 25th of February.

Eastside, a few minutes walk from Birmingham’s City Centre. Takes the traveller into a jungle consisting of many factory outlets within labyrinthine streets. Backstreet boozers, greasy spoon cafes, and…art galleries? Yes, that’s right. Art galleries within the industrial estate. There’s quite a few of them around these parts. This one, on Heath Mill Lane, is called Eastside Projects. Round the back of the Custard Factory, in between a mechanics garage and Limo Hire.

This exhibition is simply called ‘Painting Show’. Bit obvious for a gallery, but never mind.

Going in, I’m hit with an embarrassment of riches, not only colour but intrigue about what exactly is going on. An industrial rumble in the background, with the occasional siren or mechanical bleep. And all around is painting. Paintings hung on paintings, backdrops on backdrops. A kaleidoscope of colours, across a divergence of disciplines. Grand-scale portraiture on a pure, heavenly background placed on top of a furious attack of blues, greens and greys. Psychedelic carnival celebrations next to found craft knives, rainbows over the sea on oils, with the sea shells on the sea shore sticking out of the painting. Flocked wallpaper smiles, giant sheets of bashed metal, and scale canvases of giraffes with eyeless human heads. All the while the industrial drone roars away in the background. It’s coming from a room on my right.

It’s a darkened sitting room, tiny cord lights hanging off the ceiling. The room has a strong smell of stale coffee, woodwork and chocolate. A large pot plant blocks my entrance, and I nervously sidle round it. Francis Bacon-esque photography and portraiture stare down from the walls, all four eyes and two smiles. The industrial machine noises in the background clash and shatter. A leather sofa with art magazines and pamphlets bearing the name of the collective; ‘Kunstverein Schwerte’. An old lady sidles over to me and says ‘Do they worship the devil in here?’ I laugh and say they probably don’t, but her reaction is perfect for the enchantment of the room. This is one of the finest exhibitions I have been to, and worship is given here, not to the devil, but to Athena and Minerva, those Goddesses of Art.

Exiting the darkened room, I walk back through the gallery with a sense of wonderment at what I’ve found within the industrial heartland. A ‘Painting Show’ to make your eyes open and appreciate your surroundings. I make my exit back into the cold December night, and wonder which way to go, which way to explore with my new vision. A gallery has been transformed into a giant painting and installation, the Eastside Projects gallery in between the mechanics garage and Limo Hire. And now, all is painting, and all is design.

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