Culpa’s drawings are “Data Events” dictated and themed by abstract parameters – date, time, geo-location coordinates, musical notation, anniversaries, feast days, film footage and facial recognition programs. Using only black and white, avoiding colour and choice, his drawings capture, notate, locate and navigate time.
‘The Ongoing Moment’ brings together works by Feliks Culpa that explore the relationship between the ephemeral moment and the passing of time. Resolutely monochrome, his lo-fi creations cast a clear cold light on the fleeting nature of political relativity and contingency. The drawings are documents, reportage, footnotes to the present, reminders of a soon to be forgotten past.
Investigating the possibility of living among too much information, Press Pause is a reductive survey of mass media practices, pressing pause on the press barons and remotely taking back control of the flow of ‘news’ imagery. Starting in January 2014, Press Pause is comprised of serial drawings appropriated from five years of events occurring on the 24th day of each month; distilling the essence of each month’s headlines to a singularity – from the many, to the few.
Orchids and Rocks is a 20-metre rice paper scroll cataloguing and memorialising the exodus and displacement of migrants across two years of anti-refugee media frenzy that fanned the flames of populist xenophobia. Drawn from east to west, the scroll is an attempt at a graphic visual narrative from a traditionally non-western perspective.
Quintet for the End of Time references French composer Olivier Messiaen’s 1941 masterpiece, Quartet for the End of Time, both of which focus attention on the essence of experience. A lived celluloid second in the life of rock musician Jimi Hendrix, captured in twenty-four frames, queries at what point memory and memorial become mere memorabilia and whether death has a sell by date.
Enquiring if foresight can be anything other than surplus data in the age of surveillance capitalism, Big Breakfastmarries icons from William S Burroughs’ The Naked Lunch and Andy Warhol’s Last Supper in a series of drawings by Culpa depicting Warhol and Burroughs’ encounter at the Hotel Chelsea in New York. Breaking bread and pouring wine, Burroughs ‘cut[s] into the present [and] the future leaks out’.
Making works that are rituals in transfigured time, Culpa looks to the past, present and future and rejoices in the transubstantiation of the everyday into the vast canvas of history.
Feliks Culpa was born Martin McAloon in County Durham in 1962 and lives in Newcastle upon Tyne. A founding member of acclaimed English band Prefab Sprout, McAloon recorded and released albums internationally, touring extensively. McAloon considers Feliks Culpa a solo band and his art as demo tapes. His solo exhibition, ‘A Year of Living Dangerously’, was at B&D Studios, Newcastle upon Tyne (2017). He showed with Vane at the Manchester Contemporary Art Fair, Manchester (2018).