Fiona Banner: aka The Vanity Press: P E R I O D

Fiona Banner Frith Street Gallery

In her exhibition P E R I O D Banner reflects on three years of uncertainty and suspended animation for the British Isles. The central concern of her practice is the exploration of language and communication, here she focuses on its breakdown.

In this exhibition Banner has returned to a type of figurative painting, a tradition she rejected some years ago, turning instead to verbal language as a way of making pictures. Here she presents a series of interventions into found genre paintings; seascapes. In these works, she has painted-out the original subject, mighty seafaring vessels, battleships and destroyers, replacing them instead with black, oil-painted full stops.

Although Banner usually uses words in her work, she has returned to this abstract form of language intermittently over the years, so that full stop works literally punctuate her studio practice. To begin with these anti-texts were a way of exploring a crisis in her own language, here they are deployed to investigate a wider crisis of language and communication. Banner says “for me the full stop represents a symbol of language without content, a kind of hollowing out of language, a crisis where fonts, letters and words cease to function as vessels of meaning”.

Accompanying the paintings is a huge pneumatic ship’s fender, its extruded form almost filling the gallery space. Maritime fenders are used to absorb the considerable kinetic energy of a ship berthing against land or another vessel. They are used by both military and commercial ships as buffers to prevent contact and damage. Like the typographical full stop, the fender demarcates and creates an in-between space; between shore and vessel or ship and ship rather than between sentences.

Banner has previously referenced the limitations of language through a series of full stop inflatables sculptures. In an ongoing performance the black abstract forms have floated high above the skylines of coastal towns and cities, from Athens to Bexhill, with the sea as a backdrop. Both these performances and the full stop paintings contemplate the sea as a contentious space, a conduit but also as a divider.

The work for this exhibition was made over the last three years, a time of polarised rhetoric during which the term ‘post truth’ has become common vernacular.

Duration 22 November 2019 - 24 January 2020
Times Tuesday–Friday 10am–6pm Saturday 11am-5pm
Cost Free
Venue Frith Street Gallery
Address 17-18 Golden Square, London, W1F 9JJ
Contact 020 7494 1550 / /