B/Q Roland Barthes and Magnus Quaife at Castlefield Gallery: Review

Claire Walker

Castlefield Gallery’s latest exhibition sees artist Magnus Quaife inspired by theorist Roland Barthes, inspired in turn by painter Cy Twombly. Confused? Here’s our review.

Castlefield Gallery’s series of Head to Head exhibitions aims to explore the relationship between two artists’ practice; this time around B/Q: Roland Barthes and Magnus Quaife (4 Dec – 31 Jan) sees artist Magnus Quaife exploring French philosopher and literary theorist Roland Barthes’ major preoccupations – and his lesser-known painterly streak.

The exhibition explores Barthes’ fascination with fragmentation and the act of unmaking; deconstruction was Barthes’ go-to approach and one that was reflected in his love for the work of abstract artist Cy Twombly. So the exhibition not only sees an echo between Barthes’ method and Quaife’s own work, it also, at points, captures Twombly’s artistic gestures too. The result is a multi-layered collection of works across two floors of the gallery.

An exploration of Barthes’ work, documented by Quaife in painterly language

The exhibition doesn’t contain anything actually in Barthes’ hand; instead it is an exploration of Barthes’ work, documented by Quaife in painterly language. Quaife begins by acquainting himself with Barthes the writer, referencing his work in literary theory within two separate portraits of Barthes. There are also two small echoes of Barthes’ own paintings and, downstairs, a diptych called LXVIII How an Orgy is Created where fragments of a poster of one of Twombly’s works is embedded into a heavily painting canvas.

At the exhibition opening, Quaife described the painstaking process of cutting around the gestural brushstrokes Twombly has used, attempting not to disrupt a line or swathe of paint. He then embedded the poster fragments onto the thick white paint of one canvas, before removing them to leave only their outline, and instead placing them on the surface of the twin canvas. On both, Quaife has used an impasto technique to leave the surface highly textured – the process of making feels present, while the pairing of the canvases a direct reference towards artistic echoes and duplication. It’s a succinct, if very large, gesture towards the aims of the exhibition itself – where the line between artist and inspiration begin to blur.

Culture Guides

Writer Nicholas Royle. Photo by Zoe McLean

Literature

There are spooky stories, Christmas crime thrillers and plenty of books for stocking fillers as December unfolds and Manchester and the wider North region switches on the live literature lights.

Music

The festive season is here, and whether you want to escape it or embrace it, we’ve got you covered.

Theatre in Manchester and the North

Theatre

Alongside radical sci-fi adaptations and free arts festivals, we take a look at some of the Christmas shows happening in the North.

Classical Music in Manchester and the North

We preview the standout classical music events and venues in Manchester and the north.

Food and Drink

Explore the best restaurants and bars in Manchester and the North for autumn.

Image credit: Maryna Makarenko, Sun-Eaters, 2022

Cinema

Classic pre-Code cinema, the Artist Film Weekender and the music of John Williams are amongst our highlights this month.

Exhibitions

Pause in the hustle and bustle of festive prep to take in some inspiration from this month’s top exhibitions.

The Ocean at the End of The Lane at the lowry

Families

It’s the most wonderful time of the year and Manchester is bursting with fun, family activities to keep the kids entertained in the run up to Christmas!

Tours and Activities

We’re deep into Autumn now but don’t let that stop you from finding a new tour or activity to get stuck into.

Things to do right now

Powered by culturehosts
Activity Until 1 December 2022, from £20

Pottery at Earth Pig Pottery and Fine Art in Buxton

Visual Arts Until 1 December 2022, from £20

Graffiti at Zap Graffiti

Activity Until 1 December 2022, from £95

Blacksmithing at Forge Four

Activity Until 1 December 2022, from £15

Embroidery with Sara Dennis at Lancaster Castle

Activity Until 1 December 2022, from £59

Making silver stacker rings at The Old Granary

Activity Until 1 December 2022, from £13

Candle making at Cheshire Workshops

Activity Until 1 December 2022, from £60

Glass fusing at Glassmonkey Studio

Textile taxidermy
Activity Until 1 December 2022, from £80

Textile taxidermy with Jaki Bogg at Craven Arts Studios

Activity Until 1 December 2022, from £3.50

Knittaz with Attitude: Yarnbombing at Upside Down Coffee

Cinema Until 8 December 2022, from £7.95

Aftersun at HOME