It’s 6.15pm, I’m stuffed in more ways than one, I’ve cycled all the way from my studio in Hackney in the unseasonable heat, I’m sweaty from my cycling and I’m stuffed because I’m knackered from the journey. My fingers are covered in dust and grease after fixing a puncture and there are some unsightly greasy patches from the bike (and possibly a breakfast mishap that until now has gone unnoticed by me) on my t-shirt so I’m stuffed because I look a shambolic mess. To top it all I am also stuffed because I skipped lunch and having an early dinner has left me with an uncomfortable, slightly overfull stomach.
So in this shambling state I pay a visit to the opening of the second show at the recently opened Madder Rose gallery on Whitecross Street. And guess what, I look a mess and this is one of those openings where the well turned out and well heeled are hobnobbing in their sartorial splendour. Yes, this evening I am well and truly stuffed. Still, never mind, eh!.
I take a deep breath, but not too deep as my dinner has still not settled, and gently jostle my way into the gallery. Oh, yes you would think with my sweaty, greasy, queasy appearance would part the hordes but this evening the Madder Rose gallery is also stuffed. I try to look at the art, I hold out no hope of bumping into a familiar face, also no beer just wine, not that I can find the glasses anywhere even if I wanted. Anyway, there are other glasses to pay attention to with Jason Shulman exhibiting a series of sculptures involving glasses of water and painkilling pills, the press release says “analgesia, loss and the delusions inherent in perception” etc. Shulman’s sculptures are finely crafted assemblages created to portray memories and memorials and comment on the battle between perception and reality. However, I am distracted from these delicate sculptures by the wine sipping throng.
Oh look a glass with alka-seltzer like fizzing going on, and over there is a pill dropping into a glass suspended from a huge arcing metal arm, there is a target with a mirrored bullseye with another glass reflected in it that sits a few inches in front of the mirror.
Two people are playing with one of the sculptures, one presses a button as the other peers at himself in a mirror, “can you see anyone?” she says to he. Whoever he can or cant see is academic as the room is full and there is little chance of me taking part in this mirrored flashing light piece due to the stripy shirted and flowery dress wearing punters that are strolling around. Two Italian guys are talking animatedly about the sculpture on the stairs but I cant actually see it because the staircase is not wide enough for the three of us. Downstairs is quieter and one interactive piece is closed for the evening due to its fragile nature and the gallery staff not trusting the grubby fingers of such a huge number of visitors on this opening night. In the corner of this slightly darkened room is a column of coloured dust, this is the sculpture made from the ashes of the artists dead father. He has extracted iron from the ashes and then carefully filtered and sifted them into their variety of colours, they are then enclosed in a glass column with the colours in placed in lines from top to bottom
This is powerful stuff, some of the sculptures upstairs no doubt speak of the journey to the final episode that is this particular piece but this has that extra something. Somehow the finality and honesty of this piece is all that the show needs. The other sculptures upstairs are slick and nicely produced but feel slightly hollow. There is a hollowness that is something else with this final piece. It is how it should be, the hollowness of melancholy, sadness and that time when grief subsides.
I intend to return to take full account of the show in the quiet manner it deserves but for now I’m stuffed, the galleries stuffed and it’s one of those shows when my mood and the masses of this section of the art world need to be removed from the private view context and the show seen in the normal world of the gallery in the quiet days outside of the opening night.