The Jennifer Lauren and Henry Boxer Galleries present Blinko & Neate: Unlocking Worlds, featuring intricate, often melancholic drawings by Nick Blinko and automatic creations by Chris Neate. Both artists portray a fantastical attention to detail with microscopic precision in their works.
Following on from the successful launch exhibition Masao Obata: Drawing Happiness in Red, the Jennifer Lauren Gallery presents their second exhibition Blinko and Neate: Unlocking Worlds. Teaming up with London based Henry Boxer Gallery; this exhibition showcases the intricate monochromatic drawings of Nick Blinko and Chris Neate.
Taking their inspirations from different sources, both artists share a highly detailed aesthetic and intensive, sometimes obsessive working process. Blinko represents his thoughts about his illness and the effects of his medication whereas Neate allows his hands to produce automatic creations dependent upon his frame of mind.
Part artist, part lead singer of the heavy punk band Rudimentary Peni, Blinko has a cult following who appreciate him on both levels. His drawings depict fantastically intricate confrontations with his own demons yet not all the faces in his work are malignant: among the skulls, imps, fractured dolls, and phalluses, there are ironic faces and mischievous things. Blinko said: “My initial intention was to try to depict melancholy … I got frustrated at the attempts to depict suicidal depression realistically, and I got more and more into detail.”
Sitting for days on end, Blinko balances a drawing board across his knees and, using the finest of pens, obsessively conjures the most complex, unedited patterns. An exhibition at the National Schizophrenia Fellowship in 1994 first bought his art to the public’s attention and his work is now represented in the Collection de l’Art Brut in Lausanne. Blinko often reminisces about his time spent in institutions, however the more orthodox treatments left him with a painful paradox: if he submitted to medication, his concentration went, and his brain and hand and eye could not work in concert. But the productive times without the drugs meant exposure to the full force of psychic torment and delusions.
In contrast, the ability to draw came naturally to Chris Neate from an early age and in 1975, without any prior tuition, he was accepted onto an art degree course at Leeds Polytechnic. It was no ordinary art school and it gave him the opportunity to become involved in the burgeoning avant-garde music scene where he illustrated the record covers for emerging bands including Softcell’s ‘Tainted Love’ for Marc Almond.
After this youthful burst of creativity Neate began working in hospitals and social care services, looking after the elderly. He drew sporadically, and when bored by the hours spent in management meetings he started to doodle. He discovered that these distracted drawings would yield unexpectedly complex images amongst his jottings. This ability to draw automatically continued and grew in intensity until Neate felt the need to draw every day.
He started by experimenting with calligraphy brushes on paper, but more recently he has been using ultra fine black or white marker pens on board, which enable a higher degree of intricacy. He works effortlessly for several hours a day on the board, balancing it on his knees like Blinko, and often takes two weeks to complete each picture. He fills each board with a mesh of tiny circles and flowing lines interspersed with floating structures that are reminiscent of sea creatures, plants, jewels or microscopic organisms. Neate said: “I think that I get some degree of comfort from drawing and if I do it intensely then I can get into quite a meditative state and lose myself in the process.”
Jennifer Gilbert (Director, Jennifer Lauren Gallery) said: “Both artists portray a fantastical attention to detail with microscopic precision, with messages in their works that may or may not be obvious to us. By placing them side-by-side I wanted to show how two artists that are compelled to draw, for varying reasons, produce complex works that fascinate the viewer and lead us to reach for a magnifying glass.”
With thanks to Tony Thorne, Consultant at Kings College London, and Vivienne Roberts, Curator at the College of Psychic Studies London, for allowing me to use parts of their texts on each artist to write this.