Notes from Hoxton/ Hackney Borderline

Posted by Diana Henebury

I greet you. Its been a long time.

Prowling around the east end of London is like re-entering an old, familiar circle. My father, long dead and buried in New York, was born in a house off Brick Lane, from which he set off on a restless quest for a suitable place in the world. And here I am walking his old playgrounds in Bethnal Green, Hackney, Shoreditch, Islington. Its his manor and each step I take is one of reclamation, of potential ownership. But the east end is over. Its been truly fucked and is filled with cultural tourists who brave the edgy environment looking for art clues.

As I come out of the Brick Lane Biegel Bakery I am surrounded by excited German tourists, feeling so brave, snapping away and revelling in the so-called authenticity of the east end. I hurry away towards the solace of the Whitechapel where the Belgian painter Raoul de Keyser is on show. As soon as I enter I relax. I feel at home. (All over the world galleries are places of safe haven for me). His visual world says a big hello and I that marvellous feeling of recognition comes over me. These are paintings made by hand. Not glossy productions from some perfectionist art factory. These are quiet clever paintings with signs of the hand, smudges of self. They are muted, even muddy in colour and formally, the feel, just right. Evocative, I understand them. I like their mix of subtle intelligence and knowing hucksterism. De Keyser hits the spot and it s a good preface to the Tuymans show at the Tate since is an influence.

The best thing about going to the opening of the Yoko Ono exhibition was not going. Dubravka (the divine) and I met on a warm Islington evening, full of intent. We would go and mingle with the art crn). These over excited, impressed folk seemed to disappear up their own areseholes. Well, Dubravka and I were not going to fish them out. We left, pissed, arrogant, sad. We never ever made it to the exhibition.

And now to return to 8modern where our attempt to produce some real art appears on the surface to be stymied. Our meetings have become more social than working, but a determined long term commitment exists and I suddenly realise that it is our meetings that are important and our work is valuable because of its absence. This way the potential always exists. The joy of its non-existence fills my heart. Our ideas fly into the air and art is all around and it is lovely, like breathing. (Drawing is like breathing to me. When I die my body will have a post-death draw. Bugger growing hair and nails). The more I think about 8 Modern the more value it accrues. We are an exemplary group of artists in the world producing an exquisite nothing……..

July 18th, 2004 | Residents, Reviews, Reading Room, Diana Henebury

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