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Out in the Open; JULIE CHAMBERLAIN.

VARIOUS reactions to the urban landscape and a close-up focus on the face are the main features of this year's Coventry Open exhibition.

There were 163 entries to the Open, from which 53 were selected for the exhibition at The Herbert Art Gallery and Museum. A lot are first-time appearances, and a number are familiar names as fairly recent Coventry University graduates still working in the city.

At the opening, it was said that the entries had been curated for the exhibition into townscapes, portraits and anguish - an interesting third choice and one that covers quite a lot. How it was decided one of Coventry University graduate Mircea Teleaga's two successful entries, paintings entitled The Age of Concerete (sic) Reason I and II, belonged in townscapes and one in anguish I'm not sure. One features bleak trees or poles and the other a concrete mass.

Another recent graduate and New Art West Midlands exhibited artist James Birkin also had two works featured in different sections, his detailed paintings of the trashed interior of the former Mustard Nightclub. Next to one is hung David Troughton's Ranch View Hotel and they work well together, the latter showing a huge blue sky and a small, lonely hotel with signs advertising colour TV and a cafe.

The PS1,000 prize winning entry is Danny by Jeannie Brown, a large oil painting of a man in a strange white suit, where it's not clear what his situation is, and colours merge into one another in a way which focuses attention on his striking and questioning face.

Other stand out works include Rachel Doughty's Free to a Good Home which features rows of tiny T shirts with cute animal pictures on, but with descriptions of children up for adoption, challenging the idea of advertising them.

One of very few sculptural works is Jenny Small's untitled ceramic, porcelain and gold lustre creation which looks like a gold starfish escaping from some coral. Hannah Roberts's Jelly Baby Army photograph focuses closely on a mass of standing jelly babies.

Alan Porter's Clock Tower at Victoria Square, Birmingham, is an attractive and quite gentle watercolour and pencil work, and Nadia Abdouni Yates's Favella is an ink and watercolour work and features tiny houses on top of each other in a crowded area, little stick people visible between them.

Suzanne Mitchell's two works are well observed; My Lovely Coventry shows the city spires behind a wall covered in graffiti, and The Lakes is an eerie, watery country view. Michael Carr's A Message to you Rudy was recently seen in the Coventry University drawing prize exhibition, and shows a Two-Tone face drawn into the Coventry city map.

Natalie Seymore's works have also been seen recently in the Bishop Gallery, and two photographs feature here, The Wall and The Bedroom, showing devastation and mess in a former Victorian manor in Coventry.

It's a striking exhibition, with lots of young artists and other names that aren't familiar and interesting to see on show.

Runs until July 13.

CAPTION(S):

Raymond by Jake Bevan and Danny, by Jeannie Brown
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Coventry Evening Telegraph (England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Jun 20, 2014
Words:514
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