Friday, September 15, 2006

Above the Clouds

It is another Thursday night Hoxton/Shoreditch circuit. White Cube, Seventeen, Studio 1.1 and Standpoint are on my intenerary this evening, I have the company of Liz for the White Cube but then she has other plans and heads off up Kingsland Road. We go briefly into the White Cube before she goes and look around at the new Katerina Fritsch exhibition.
Fritsch’s work never really hits me, too clean, too precise. I like my art to have some rough edges, finely crafted is fine but it needs a little something somewhere that feels grubbily real, it could be materially with a few rough edges to the finish, a smudge of fingerprint or a slight drift on symmetry. Or it could be the roughness of thought, maybe a little sense of the artists unknowingness, maybe slightly off kilter with the concept. Either way Fritsch produces a lovely looking show but for me, once again too slick, too clean, maybe the artists hand looks to far removed from the production. I know Fritsch has an edge because I know that friends find her work very disturbing but if I am to be disturbed I don’t want to know in advance or have the bitterness sweetened, lets just fall headlong into the madness quickly, lets get grubby, bloody or break out the straightjacket!.
We go upstairs but maybe our collective concentration is a.w.o.l tonight because Neal Tait's paintings and bench sculpture doesn’t grab me either. Liz sums it up as we leave the gallery “what is this guff? am I missing the point or something?”. Perhaps we are, maybe our critical faculties are missing or maybe my intellect won’t keep up with the subtle messages in the work. More importantly, however, I don’t care.

Outside with Liz having left for the evening I load up on free beer courtesy of ‘the Cube’, they can afford it more than the other galleries and I think having principles when grubbing freebies is always worth bearing in mind.

Next up is the increasingly interesting Seventeen Gallery for David Ersser’s sculpture, compared to the previous show which was rammed it is a quieter turnout, I have said before that I like what the Seventeen does and Ersser’s work keeps the standard going. He has created his studio environment in the gallery, everything is constructed from balsa wood as 1:1 scale models of the originals, in one corner are wood shavings and a broom, in the other his L shaped desk and workbench complete with drill. Beside that sits a box filled with offcuts of wood and in the middle of the floor is his camera atop a tripod, adjacent on the floor is a circular saw, the electric cable snakes away to the plug further along. It is nerdy, compulsive stuff, all this hand crafted using balsa, Ersser comes across like some strange model making fetishist, the humour of the work and the effort in production is captivating, you cannot pull your eyes away from this scene, despite its mundane nature you want to look at how every piece of balsa has been constructed into the variety of objects. I have visions of Ersser hunched over his latest modelled creations, out of sight he is quietly remaking whole rooms, buildings and cities without our knowledge, one day we will wake and find the whole of London is turned to balsa.

On Redchurch Street I look in briefly on Oliver Bancroft’s show at Studio1.1, many small, highly worked, unpretentious paintings and a multiple screen film. The film is pieced together from a row of projections, several rows of trees are being filmed and then a composite panorama is constructed. There is a slight jarring motion of each film and the changing light quietly shimmers and shakes side by side with the other, the experience of seeing each in isolation but also combined as whole with its filmic partners is a strange experience. I like it, I don’t know why, I think perhaps this combination of individual and collective, isolated and combined appeals.
I return to Hoxton and stop on the way at Rivington Street for the opening of Markus Hansen’s ‘Other People’s Feelings…’ at Bischoff/Weiss. Hansen and the gallery team are networking, there is some serious reputation selling going on here and I try not be distracted as a variety of people move seamlessly through multiple languages and introductions. I always feel a fraud at these type of openings but no matter, I stop practicing my ‘French by eavesdropping’ and look at the changing projections of Hansen’s portraits.
Hansen has photographed a variety of people, male and female, differing ages. They gaze at the camera and on the left hand side mirroring their expressions is Hansen, he has laboriously studied the expressions and by trial and error and no doubt some patience recreated their expression with his own features. This is amazing, it draws you in, the diversity of sitters is wide but somehow Hansen manages to recreate himself in their image, we no longer see difference but similarity. Despite the difference in facial structure, skin, eye and hair tone and colour, age and sex Hansen becomes similar through empathy rather than physical resemblance.
It seems simple but Hansen’s photographs contain a quiet strength and hope.

The final stop on my itenarary is Mark Tanner Award winner Kevin Osmond’s show at Standpoint. Osmond’s sculptures are made from small, mundane, generic objects, objects of the same dimensions such as ping pong balls, pieces of polystyrene or tile spacers.
His sculpture with tile spacers is in the small side room of the gallery, on tall thin columns sit spheres constructed from the spacers, the cross shapes are pieced together to create the spheres. Multiple spheres fill the room and remind me of the heads of alliums, like a sea of huge onion flowers.
At the back of the main gallery space is a fractal type sphere constructed from over 6000 chopsticks. Osmond’s sculptures are fragile looking, light, with use of implied and negative space, most of the work on show relies on negative space to create the form, the lighting is integral to this and the multiple harsh lights of the gallery projects a variety of shadows on the surrounding walls and floor. The size of these works is prodigious considering the small materials used in the construction.
The piece I enjoyed most was Osmond’s cloud relief, one is a simple cloud sculpture using polystyrene, these are conventional cloud shapes such as might be drawn by a child, however the crafting of these appears not a simple task. The other cloud sculpture that I particularly enjoyed was of vapour trails, the type you see some time after a plane has flown past in the summer and has begun to split, spread and lose its structure as it is absorbed into the atmosphere, I guess with these modest materials Osmond is doing the opposite. These insignificant things would be lost to landfill and in some cases are not biodegradable but instead of allowing them to spread and thin out into ever increasing environmental junk he collects and condenses them back into impressively beautiful facsimiles of existing natural forms and human constructions, forgotten and discarded they are brought back to life.


Blogger Constance said...

do you know where i can get any info on Katarina fritsch? theres hardly any on the web about her.

11:26 pm  
Blogger golgonooza said...

Hi Constance
I would check out White Cube's website (a link is in the post) which has fairly detailed artist pages, they are her representation in the UK perhaps also the website for Matthew Marks Gallery as her dealers in the US. Her exhibition at Tate Modern in 2002 had an accompanying book which is the only English language book I know about covering her work (although dont quote me on that!), should be fairly easy to find from any specialist art book retailer. Hope this helps.

9:58 am  

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