Colour is one of the essential tools to describe something that is not at hand, an instrument much used by novelists and travel writers to make the reader live the immediacy of an experience. Tim Braden uses colour to refine or redefine the things he depicts: faces, landscapes, toys, signs, animals. His taxonomy appears excessively broad, as if he were interested in everything, in the manner of a scrapbook. On the surface, Braden’s work then seems oblivious, anachronistic almost; its images of faraway exotic places remind us of other times, rendering the present virtually superfluous. His sculptures and models reprise the objects of childhood. He points to an interest in things that are unremarkable and can easily be overlooked and remain untouched in a digital world; in Braden’s work, the toy -like a memento from a distant trip- is the embodiment of fiction, a trigger for another state of being.
Martin Westwood’s installations, sculptures and collages refer to the stratified world of commerce and its mass produced objects. He selects images of people at work engaged in mundane activities, taken from corporate brochures, which are appropriated and repositioned through the use of mechanised processes. By foregrounding corporate iconography, Westwood examines the codified absurdity of the workplace with its well-rehearsed and repetitive actions and exchanges: emptied public gestures that filter through to the private world of the individual, tainting and marring every intimacy. Westwood’s depiction scenes from the work place always suggest something repressed which remains hidden, where a hand shake ceases to be a gesture of friendly greeting, becoming a hollow form of systematic communication.
The sculptures of Tatiana Echeverri Fernandez address and update key aspects of assemblage, after Installation art. Made of found materials and cast-offs from consumer culture, her works act as props to forge relationships with the audience, and with the space of the gallery. However, though removed from their original settings and shorn of their use functions, these props retain a certain mournful echo of their past. Indeed, old commodities reveal their architecture too readily without offering up the implacable and impenetrable surface quality of its current counterparts thus attaining a form of allegorical value.
The cabinets employed here by the artists serve to underline the nature of display through scale and substitution. The formal properties of a glass vitrine are suggestive of containment, and thus, separation or fetishisation, the result of the museum’s systemic activity. Fragments of what is ‘out there’, in the world are brought in for scrutiny and display, protected by the glass screen of a vitrine; hence, it serves to draw our attention to, not what it contains, but all that it does not. It is the cabinet’s inability to contain that ensures continuing interest, acting like a box in the world theatre by promoting the idea of (a space of) art, but in a condensed form. Where the cabinet of curiosity became a window onto an exotic realm, the ‘White Cube’ shut it again, insisting on the exclusion of all but art from its ethereal body. In the Contemporary, this space is once more opened up to the world, yet it is one rendered in miniature, located in the head of the artist, an essentially private and reticent place.
The sculptures and installations of Daniel Silver, heads and bodies made from an array of different materials, and placed on often elaborate supports in the shape of plinths, chairs and tables share an unassuming appearance; they seem, at first, rudimentary, as if out of focus, shorn of distinctive features; however, this lack of distinguishable detail does not render them alike. This absence of detail is, in fact, not a lack, resulting in inertia, but a productive motivation on the subject’s part; in this way, it compels the viewer to question and engage. What we are led to distinguish, are the marks and shadowlines left on the heads by the sculptor who adds, and, oftentimes, subtracts material in search for a form; these shadows provide testimony of the sculptor’s presence and touch in the process of accretion and deletion.
The attention to surface in Silver’s work is redolent of key early Modernist sculptures by Medardo Rosso, Amedeo Modigliani and Contantin Brancusi, as indicated by the manner in which they address the relationship between their torsos and heads and the support surface.
Andrea Büttner’s choice of material and medium references utopian Modernist strategies and outmoded artisanal methods of production.
Her woodcuts, glasspainting, and screenprinting would appear to be rooted in craft traditions, rather than within contemporary visual art. That is, if we accept that the Contemporary has a specific aesthetic, then these media may be excluded from the discourse. Yet it is precisely their marginal status that draws the artist to them.
The appropriation of the gallery space provides a recurring theme in the artist’s work. She paints the walls of the space brown as far up as she can reach before engaging in the display of other works. Her cabinets stand in for the idea of the gallery and are painted in garish colours applied with a seemingly unsteady hand; the invocation of amateurism seeks to recuperate an authenticity seemingly lost in the Contemporary.
Hosking does not appear to travel in order to communicate: instead, he journeys and makes art, to get away, and, at times, to quite literally disappear.
It might appear as if the artist’s work was solely invoking Romanticism and harking back to another time and place, though this would be an incomplete, and ultimately superficial reading. Instead, his problematizing of both subject matter and process functions perhaps as a way of staving off oblivion, to recall in order to endure today. His projects, often taking place in remote and inhospitable locations, foreground observation, stillness and toil. For this exhibition, the artist waited in a hide for nights on end, in order to capture footage of an elusive owl. The films are then projected into the cabinets, which are lined in black velvet, a material that heightens the chiaroscuro of the nocturnal footage.
A football bladder, a sheet of polythene, a lump of styrofoam, cardboard packing, and an upturned stool: these are materials variously employed by Ian Kiaer in his installations. Moreover these might be thought of as the visible signs of a world we can physically grasp, but which remains essentially elusive.
Kiaer describes the importance of the fragment as a means of referencing something beyond the actual, in short, the thing or idea that remains absent. His endeavour to conjure up an elsewhere through paintings by Pieter Bruegel or architectonic models of BrunoTaut or Frederick Kiesler cannot, or indeed, must not, succeed; instead, his work shows clearly that these delicately displayed fragments or shreds cannot replace- or even stand in for- the whole. The resulting aura of melancholia stems from the explicit failure to complete the project, to bring a place or earlier image to life in its original state.