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Ingleby Gallery > Exhibitions > and per se and: part XXV – Alexander Gorlizki & 12th C. Manuscript, Gospel of Luke

and per se and: part XXV – Alexander Gorlizki & 12th C. Manuscript, Gospel of Luke

28 March 2018 - 7 April 2018

and per se and is a rolling sequence of exhibitions where one work is paired with another for two weekly periods, across a stretch of 12 months. From today the vivid pictorial world of Alexander Gorlizki’s works-on-paper is paired with a remarkable 12th Century manuscript; the Gospel of Luke.

Gorlizki’s work appears here in two distinct forms. The first is an exquisitely rendered drawing in black and white pigment on thick card depicting a stylised pattern of tiny wave-like forms gathered around white spheres – virtuosic in its meditative mark-making – and the other takes the shape of a cork board transplanted from the artist’s Brooklyn studio to the gallery wall. Composed of over a hundred drawings and fragments of cards, scraps of material – both ancient and modern – pinned and interleaved and covering the diversity of his interests from Tantric cosmology, ornamental topiary, popular culture, minimal abstraction and biomorphic symbolism to plumbing parts. It is a feast for the senses.

For all its richness and riotous abandon Gorlizki’s practice is rooted in a in a decorative tradition that has been practiced for over 600 years. Establishing a studio in Jaipur with the master Indian miniature painter Riyaz Uddin has informed the development of his distinctive visual language for over twenty years.

In comparison, the Gospel of Luke – or The Glossed Luke with the Letter A, to give this unique manuscript its proper name – appears restrained and economically decorated but its apparent simplicity belies its significance as an object of extraordinary human commitment, craft, collaboration and devotion. The book dates from about 1120 and was made by monks for St Augustine’s Abbey in Canterbury. The ‘prickly’ Latin script is characteristic of books from this area in the early 12th century. For a book to survive in its original binding for 900 years, in such extraordinary condition, is extremely rare.

This volume is also a composite revealing the different materials that were available to medieval English scriptoria during the years of its writing. Non-invasive scientific testing has shown the leather covers to be roe deer. Similarly the parchment leaves are sourced from a surprising combination of calf, sheep and goat; the pigments from which its decorated letters are composed include lapis lazuli from Afghanistan; The hands of four scribes contributed to its Gospel and commentary. To contemporary readers the importance of this book would have transcended its materials, as medieval manuscript expert Christopher De Hamel remarked ‘books around 1100 were precious, sacred, remote and almost magic.’

The Glossed Luke offers a glimpse of monastic life of the early 12th century and of the uses to which it was put until it left St Augustine’s 400 years later at the Reformation. It is an 800-year-old gift passed through many careful reverential hands – from the medieval world to our own.

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