March 2019


Curated by Karolina Albricht and Matt Lippiatt 

Unit 3 Projects | ASC Studios | Empson St | E3 3LT


Karolina Albricht

Angela Brandys

Nathan Cash Davidson

Sara Dare

Gabriela Giroletti

Freya Guest 

Vincent Hawkins

Matt Lippiatt

Bryan Reedy



A Pregnant Silence (In Potentia) , Sarah White

Vacuous cavities and wet conglomerate masses which both enshroud and enlarge the space they inhabit. Black is the non-colour which ingests and absorbs, overcoming and overwhelming as it defines, delineates and outlines the shape of man. It is mass and void, the name of the incomprehensible: overlooked because of its incomprehensibility. It is the non-colour which maintains the paradox of representing both the vacant and the infinite, of everything and nothing. Blacked-out: the marks of censorship which redact knowledge, and yet these deleted marks become suggestive silhouettes of familiar forms. 

From the infinite to the emptied, from the eternal to the earth, in a desire for the transcendent, painting begins with ground, grinded matter, something akin to the alchemists’ materia prima: the formless, indefinable, cloudy object from which to begin. This First Object was the ashy refuse, the dust of Adam, the sludge which separates and sinks to the bottom and the elastic skin which grows on top (1). ‘Stuff’ is the derogatory and abject, the throwaway term for the nondescript, undervalued and unworthy of naming. It is the sludgy, leaden pigment smeared across the surface of Gabriela Giroletti’s canvases, and the gritty matter embedded within Karolina Albricht’s painting.  

‘Dark matter strives to fill a gap in our thought…. In the end, what the black of the Cosmos connotes is less absence or death than what thought opposes to them… “it’s not nothingness, it’s not pure concept! It’s just matter that’s still too dimly illuminated.’ ‘Someday, it will be light. And we will see.”’ (2)

This gap in thought is the illusion of a cut-out in Bryan Reedy’s fabric, filled up in the imagination with the speculative fiction of Nathan Cash Davidson’s figures of half machine, half human cyborgs, and robots travelled across time through holograms which are as real as the actual objects they allude to. The shapeless, uninhabited, desolate abyss of the black canvas is without form and void, a wasteland of ruin, as darkness hovers over the face of the deep. And yet this dark, black void is Heaving and pregnant with life. Black: that which holds and contains everything in potentia, waiting to be brought forth. Coloured shapes wait, hovering and lingering on the edge of the canvas, floating up from the layered undercoats of yellow, blue, pink and red. 

Malevich’s black square was hung in the corner of a room in the place of the icon: substituting the object of worship with a black void. Hanging a black cavity in the place of the divine deity asked to be read as an act of defiant renunciation. And yet this black icon embodied the ability of a single non-colour - through its occupation of a particular place - to hold the weight of paradox and contradiction. In an apophatic act the fullness of the infinite is acknowledged in the very inability to represent it in a human gesture. Black can be nothing and everything: void and emptiness or fullness and eternity. ‘Malevich’s “Nothing” is thus not an ontological absence but a means of designating a fullness that is intrinsically imperceptible and ineffable.’ (3)

The black hole is the fullness of meaning, ‘it exerts such a tremendous attraction on everything, that nothing - neither matter nor light - can escape from it….as a negligible but mercilessly agglutinate mass, the dead star lies at the border between nothingness…and super reality. As usual black symbolises, without distinction, both lack and excess.’ (4)

The black gauze draped over the backside of Angela Brandys’ disembodied form barely covers the dissected limbs, which have been rolled, twisted and folded like paper, forming a heavy conglomerate. This agglutinate mass of flesh is struck and penetrated, imploded in on itself, like a car that has been violently crushed down into a sharp metal lump intended to occupy the smallest amount of space possible as air is pushed out and space suppressed. It is suspended, with the accumulated violent energy pent up within it. Yet it is still, remembering the silence before destruction, the silence before the tornado. 

The black cavity is the silent black noise of John Cage’s 4’33, which, like Malevich’s black square, is a pregnant silence of stillness and vacuousness filling itself with the minutiae of sound. This inconsequential noise is amplified and raised to the surface as everything else falls away. Like the paradoxically vacant frame, so Cage’s void of sound holds both nihilistic nothingness enmeshed with the fullness and beauty of the infinite which is, for some, most fully comprehended negatively. 


  1. Elkins, J. (2005). What Painting Is (How to Think about Oil Painting, Using the Language of Alchemy). 2nd ed. UK: Routledge

  2. Badiou, A. (2017). Black the brilliance of a non-colour. 2nd ed. UK: Polity Press

  3. Anderson, Jonathan: Modern Art and the Life of a Culture (The Religious Impulses of Modernism). InterVarsity Press, 2016. 

  4. Badiou, A. (2017). Black the brilliance of a non-colour. 2nd ed. UK: Polity Press