Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The Points Between

The visual language of modernism has been established and is now a recognisable and ingrained part of our culture, the practical, unfussy linear cleanliness is evident in the work of many painters and sculptors and in the designs and manufactures of architects and designers. Looking back to the beginnings of modernism the clean, efficient lines and minimal stylings free from flourishes are something most of us now take as an easily recognisable style across many creative fields. The four artists whose work is collected together in the latest exhibition at The Approach gallery carry these modernist stylings in their works, interested in the overlaps and intersections in their work they create artworks with a certain mathematical imperative, linear sections, unitary blocks of shade & colour and a minimal usage of material and structure run true through all their works, the unfussy cleanliness and efficiency of modernism are an obvious influence. However, it is where the contemporary world manufactures and interprets these influences that these artists show a movement through modernism and beyond, these modernist traits now break and wobble under the influence of contemporary life, for all these artists the formal systems that are the foundation of their different art works begin to break down and change shape, the mathematical patterns and predictions of the world alter, the edges warp, the framing becomes misshapen, patterns realign in time and space. It is where a formal language changes and develops in front of the viewer that provides real satisfaction in this exhibition, Alexander Wolff’s stitched and dyed canvas paintings show the edges of success and failure, technical specifications in the making of these paintings are subverted by failings and reactions of the dyed material. Tom Humphreys’ sculptures show metal rods which appear bent and misshapen or perhaps reformed and shaped as they rest supported on plinths or perhaps standing free and wrapped around, they form a system of ambiguity somewhere between action and reaction. Nora Schultz’s sculptures similarly contain elements of metal rods, constructed as frames to carry loose unfurled sponge mats, the solidity and rigidity of one material support and enable the loose flowing shapes of the other. Mandla Reuter has altered the phasings of the lights within the gallery, all the lights turn on and off in all permutations possible, the order is specified but it is the buzzing, clicking and fuzzing of the bulbs and elements which give a sense of disorder, control feels as if it could give way to chaos at any moment. It is Reuter’s other work that the true metaphor of this show really drives home, Reuter has commissioned a photographer to take photographs of the LA skyline at intervals to show the movement of the setting sun, the predictable movement of sun across the sky flows ever downwards to disappear for another night behind the pre-existing built shapes of the skyline, ultimately your mind reflects beyond the predictable patterns of movement and shape to the unseen but ever changing human activity within each framed photograph. Modernism seemed to create order, predictability and simplicity in its designs and shapes, but within any order or system it is the points between success and failure, action and reaction, order and disorder that real humanity lives.


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