Collective Ending presents Meal Deal, a two-person exhibition of new work by Niccolo Binda and Donal Sturt. Inspired by our 2021 exhibition ‘Old Friends, New Friends’, we recently ran our first internal open call, inviting artists whom we have previously worked with to submit proposals for intimate, two-person exhibitions that paired their practice with that of an artist we haven’t exhibited before. Celebrating and spotlighting those artists who continue to excite and inspire us, whilst allowing us to ever-expand our extended community of emerging artists, Meal Deal is the first exhibition selected collectively from those submissions.
Niccolo Binda, who we exhibited as part of 2021’s ‘squeezebox’, creates smooth, glossy sculptural reliefs, their polished factory finish instantly aesthetically enticing. The works engage both our nostalgia for stylised children’s playsets or simplified jigsaw puzzles and our innate ability to be intuitively instructed by often-overlooked civic architecture or street furniture. They shine a light on the unknown and underappreciated craftspeople, their shapes, structures and silhouettes echoing a daily disregard for the efforts and endeavours of anonymised urban planners, designers, inventors, architects, engineers and fabricators. Throughout, seemingly inane slogans satirise the oppressive omnipresence of clichéd catchphrases, tired taglines and mundane mottos, expressing a witty world-weariness towards stale advertising adages.
Donal Sturt, whose painting practice takes as its primary point of departure the inherent innocence and naivety of children's drawings and readily references Rhoda Kellogg’s psychological studies into diagrammatic development, presents for the first time artworks from an ongoing sculptural series. Similarly circling around concepts of play and improvisation, Sturt adopts both the instinct of a survivalist scavenger and the intuition of an Abstract Expressionism painter, first salvaging and stockpiling collections of urban detritus (plastic toy parts, food packaging, loose change, scrap metal) before forming multicoloured molten tableaus of treasured trash. At once gleaming and grotesque, lavish and lurid, plenteous and perverse, they offend our inborn insistence on order, as we attempt to identify individual objects within, appeal to our enduring attraction to pleasing plastics and tap into our primal, evolutionary id.
Both artists, in their own way, feed off of the urban environment that surrounds them, hence the exhibition taking its title from that rhythmic repast of choice for city slickers, metropolitan hustlers and rat race runners. Binda and Sturt act like vultures, picking apart the corpse of a slowly collapsing civilisation - where empty promises, hollow hopes and dead dreams are kicked to a perfectly curved curbside - ready and waiting to archive the archaeological, societal and emotional remains.