Nina Chua and Daniel Silver at Castlefield Gallery, Manchester

words Lee Taylor

One of the great things about Manchester’s Castlefield Gallery is that if you get your timing right, you can get the exhibition space to yourself. And so it was for me when I visited the latest exhibition from artists Nina Chua and Daniel Silver. Now I’d done my research beforehand but the experience in person is often so different than you expect.

Nina Chua picture
Nina Chua in front of Marker 720 (2022). Photo by Kate Hardy
Nina Chua
Nina Chua, Marker 466 (2021), detail. Photo by Michael Pollard

Chua’s drawings are an intense but joyful experience. Some of the markings close-in look like intricate doodles but realised on an epic scale. There are ribbon-like structures too often intersected by other lines as they travel. There’s a boldness and confidence in the way the artist allows herself and her hand to follow the instinctive path. Sometimes the lines are so densely packed they seem in danger of destroying the paper. The space in between the clusters and lines though brings the sprawling nature into an epic whole. Her expressions hang in suspended animation on the vastness of the paper.

Daniel Sliver
Daniel Silver, Friend (2020). Photo by Harry Meadley
Daniel Sliver image
Daniel Silver, Reclining in Rose (2020). Photo courtesy Harry Meadley

Silver’s figures on the other hand, stare at me defiantly. The figures may seem primitive; battered and bashed into shape; but they are staged in formal poses defying the formality of their setting. The delightfully garish colours remind me of modern extruded plastic formed (or malformed) into rough archaic figures that might have been buried and distorted by time – hidden, awaiting rediscovery by a future civilisation.

Both artists seem to be exploring that intense need to express oneself as a human being and as an artist. They allow themselves to be guided by instinct. There seems to be an affinity with an early human desire to gash or gouge on cave walls. It makes me ponder on that human need to make a mark.

“…the pen and the paper have much to express and my job as an artist is to facilitate their potential. In making the work, I try not to control it”  Nina Chua

“I think all my interest in archaeology and work that was made a thousand years ago, thousands of years ago, still carries that humanity in it, and I hope my objects will carry this in them in times to come.” Daniel Silver 

Nina Chua and Daniel Sliver is showing at Castlefield Gallery until 29 January 2023 (closed over the 2022/2023 Christmas period from 19 Dec 2022 –  4 Jan 2023 inclusive).

Castlefield Gallery has supported and followed Chua’s work over several years. She has taken part in numerous exhibitions at the gallery including: LAUNCH PAD: Meanwhile See This (2012), AND A 123 (2017) and Oh, it is easy to be clever if one does not know all these questions (2018). In 2013 Chua was commissioned to develop a public artwork for the gallery’s external facade.

Nina Chua and Daniel Sliver
Nina Chua and Daniel Silver, installation view. Photo by Harry Meadley

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