A theme emerged amongst a selection of the graduates in the Royal College of Art MA Show’s Sculpture Building of making works about the flow of light and this seems to have flowed out of this institution to the wider London art scene.
Untitled (Vents1&2) (2011) by Brendan Giles
Brendan Giles‘ works at the RCA, Untitled (Vents 1&2) are sculptures of vents in which only selected slats are open and exist whilst the rest is solid. This creates an asymmetric pattern of lines where a little daylight can be seen hitting the wall behind the work, like some of Liam Gillick’s sculptural pieces that divide space. Perhaps, however, Giles’ works are actually more about the flow of air in and out of city buildings with vast air conditioning systems.
Oscillator-Aerator (2011) by Sara Knowland
Sara Knowland’s Oscillator-Aerator at the Royal Academy Schools Show bares a similar form but in wood painted grey rather than plaster and seems to directly reference the form of Julian Opie’s H (1987).
Unit (2011) by Poppy Bisdee
Poppy Bisdee‘s Unit (2011) was one of the highlights of the Wimbledon College of Art BA show. In this work she photographed the exhibition space on all sides including the floor, without a trace of the photographic means. This includes the building supplies that are left on show in the exhibition spaces here, with the power sockets becoming a particular focal point in this piece, like Bradley Hayman‘s work Tunnel Vision at the Sassoon Gallery in 2009 featured the furniture and fire extinguisher as in the space when originally viewed.
Tunnel Vision (still) (2009) by Bradley Hayman
Bisdee has then printed her photographs on acetate and reconstructed a miniature version of the room except for the wall farthest from where it is projected back onto using an overhead projector, creating a three-dimensional effect of being inside the room, whilst being drawn to consider the relationship between the projected sockets and the real one which is projected onto. Bisdee has turned simplicity into beauty. From a simple and minimal photographic act, she has created an interesting three-dimensional piece both within the acetate form and within the spatial installation.
- Summer Holiday Dreams (2011) by Haruka Ono
Meanwhile at the Slade MFA show Haruka Ono created a miniature world from an entirely different medium, frozen food. Summer Holiday Dreams is a three-dimensional tropical landscape made up of battered fish and chicken nuggets whilst green beans form greenery protruding from the ground or hanging as palm leaves from trees. This is a curious dialectic work, depicting a tropical place in frozen food, which is contained in a modified commercial chest freezer with a glass top. Miniature toad in the holes form small boats floating on a sea of blue ice cream (pistachio perhaps) as a wave breaks towards them in cream or vanilla ice cream. It seems this work critiques the food it uses as a medium perhaps for its healthiness but more so for its environmental impact, using electricity likely generated by burning fossil fuels to preserve it, and its absent packaging clogging landfill, whilst the freezer, likely reclaimed from scrap, contains CFC gases. This work also shows the childlike playfulness of Fischli and Weiss’ The Sausage Photographs (1979), reflecting art and creativity as skills we are born with, but which most repress as they grow older.
Placebo Syndrome (2011) by David Mullen at Tank Gallery
David Mullen’s paintings in The Pleasure Principle at Tank Gallery are an appealing sculptural form. By applying monochromatic layers of thick impasto oil paint to his canvases and then covering with one or more layers of gloss paint, Mullen has been able to allow the surface to dry solid whilst the interior remains liquid enough to peel the surface back into a sculpture with the surface of the painting cut away and hanging off the wall. These works, particularly the grey Placebo Syndrome are almost like a sardine can that has had its lid curled back halfway, exposing the yellow filling, whilst the framed work The Perfect Crime directly illustrates the paint coming out of the canvas, peeling back the layers towards the found picture beneath. From a similar thought process Eunkyung Lee’s circular paintings Collected Samples in the Slade MA show are on castors and invited to be kicked around the space to knock against one another and reveal the multiple layers of imagery that are built up on their surfaces. Hence the work becomes an interactive piece in the creating of new, constantly evolving work through the combination of fragmented images akin to peeling back the layers of adverts on a traditional billboard.
Collected Samples 2, 6, 11 by Eunkyung Lee
Earlier this month a group of Goldsmiths MA students recently collaborated on the exhibition The Second Attempt at Phane Terglo at Lewisham Arthouse, where all the works were in shades of beige. As mentioned in the article ‘All That Glitters Isn’t Necessarily Gold‘, a trend for monochromous work appeared over the winter. What came out of The Second Attempt at Phane Terglo was an experimentation with contrasting textures. In an all-encompassing installation, painted surfaces that had the finish of raw plaster contrasted with smooth MDF and the striated cut edges of plywood. Synthetic flowers hung from a washing line whilst minimal glasses of beige drinks with a cherry in sat on the ledge around the room. Sliced potatoes sewn to a painted strip of fabric hung from the ceiling resembled diseased skin, whilst their decomposition mirrors that of Anya Gallaccio‘s works such as preserve ‘beauty’, where she places red gerberas behind glass and allows them to naturally die. Finally a series of three monochromatic portrait paintings seemed effectively identical but for slight variations that possibly indicate the models may have been an Asian male, a white female and a black male, demonstrating that we are all alike and equal, whilst it could be said to reflect the dullness of a homogenised society and hence perhaps celebrate our individuality.
The ordered layout of Gallaccio’s work is also mirrored in that of Victoria Scott‘s Lenty Pond (2011), which was shown in the following exhibition at the same gallery. A grid of nearly 500 petri dishes laid out on the gallery floor formed a graduated change of colour. From a distance these appeared to contain pigment or coloured sand but in fact they are oil paintings on canvas cut out in a circle, potentially violently, where a selection seem to quite strongly represent landscape scenes, and resulting in their slight undulation. It was also interesting to observe the reflection of the rectangular gridded windows on the grid of transparent pieces, which also draw to mind Carl Andre‘s floor pieces over which the audience are invited to walk, but in this case despite a lack of barrier it seems the work would be destroyed by this kind of interaction.
Quite different from Scott’s work but related to the use of texture and material in The Second Attempt at Phane Terglo, Neil Taylor translates material in his exhibition True Wood at Campbell Works. Taylor has carved a series of works that resemble wood out of blue Styrofoam. The exhibition has a distinctly religious undercurrent, using apparently found material from a neighbouring evangelical church; a powerful letterhead with an image of the crucifixion as a watermark, as both source material and a medium on which to draw or write.
Taylor’s use of material is most interesting in the less religious works where he has created pallets out of Styrofoam and polystyrene, ironically crossing junctions between art and its packaging materials. The packing is rendered as art whilst it suggests the disastrous or comedic scene that would occur if they were used in the intended manner of pallets.