Andrew Kerr ‘Flattening the Penny’

The Modern Institute, 3 Aird's Lane, Glasgow

Flattening the Penny is Andrew Kerr’s seventh solo exhibition at The Modern Institute. For this presentation at Aird’s Lane, the artist is showing a new body of work which continues his exploration of associative abstraction. In this suite of paintings, Kerr’s pictorial focus has shifted to more specified and graphic forms, corresponding to his renewed interest in book cover design and draftsmanship. Many of the motifs, letter-like shapes and patterns which emerge across the paintings were initially developed through drawings. The exhibition title speaks to this kind of iconographic and topological play, to the way an emblem can shift and change under pressure.

Kerr is a student of historical painting, from Post-Impressionism to mid-twentieth century British abstraction. And while grounded in this history, the generation of new work remains intuitive. His approach is methodical and self-questioning, with pieces emerging slowly from the studio. Each painting presents Kerr with a fresh challenge and an opportunity to renew his methods. In Flattening the Penny, he remains committed to a set of core materials — paper, acrylic paint, wood — and producing new painterly effects with them. These can be subtle, as where he develops a work from a set of close tones (nodding to his interest in Georges Braque), or more graphic, such as in paintings which incorporate highly specific silhouettes or sharp-edged motifs. The latter often recall folds of paper, scale models and industrial machinery. The artist’s admiration of dance, and the choreography of Richard Alston is apparent in various patterned or rhythmical passages too.

Each work is held within a unique frame made by Steph Shiels and Marian Campbell. These comprise frames within frames and a variety of stains, woods and washes which respond to and support the geometries of the pictures. The installation of the works in space, as with the framing, extends the intuitive logic of the paintings themselves. Each decision concerns the question of how they can be affectively held and situated.

Kerr’s commitment to draftsmanship is underscored by the presence of drawings in a new special edition of his 2020 monograph launched in tandem with the exhibition. Each of these is signed, housed in a screen-printed case and contains four works on paper.

Andrew Kerr lives and works in Glasgow, selected solo exhibitions include: Kerry Schuss, New York (2022), Bridge for July, Matthew Brown, Los Angeles (2021); Mist at the Pillars, The Modern Institute (2019); Wyndham School of Dancing, The Modern Institute, Aird’s Lane Bricks Space (2016); Away with Nora, BQ, Berlin (2015); The gallery is beside a church, apartments and a small park with fountain, Rat Hole Gallery, Tokyo (2015); the Other Shop, The Modern Institute, Aird’s Lane, Glasgow (2014); Shane Campbell Gallery, Lincoln Park, Chicago (2014); Dellmess was Charged, The Modern Institute, Osborne Street Glasgow (2012); Haul in, Cousin, BQ, Berlin (2012); So Ensconced, Inverleith House, Edinburgh (2011); Deliveries: feeling one, running one, accepting one, against one, preparing one, revising one and sending one, Kunstverein Bremerhaven (2009); and Cojones Need Patience, The Modern Institute, Glasgow (2007). Recent group exhibitions include: ‘I Know Where I’m Going – Who Can I Be Now’, The Modern Institute, Osborne Street, Glasgow (2021), Du coq à l’âne, Le Bel Ordinaire (2019); I still believe in miracles, Inverleith House, Edinburgh (2016); A Picture Show, Gallery of Modern Art, Glasgow (2013); Beholder, Talbot Rice, Edinburgh (2011) and Fizz Up and Dissolve, The Project Room, Glasgow (2010).