John Hurrell – 27 December, 2013
This show is an incongruous mix of figuration, abstraction, applied process and love of language syntax all swirling around together. Whilst not particularly coherent, there are nevertheless some remarkable contributions. At the same time nothing really grates - as the risk often is with group selections around this time of year.
The Bold and the Beautiful
12 December - 21 December 2013. 28 January - 5 February 2014
This Christmas show features a line of Boyd Webb, Gretchen Albrecht, Elizabeth Thomson, Brett Graham and Simon Morris with one work each, and oddly Stephen Bambury and Denis O’Connor with two. It’s an incongruous mix of figuration, abstraction, applied process and love of language syntax all swirling around together. Whilst not particularly coherent, there are nevertheless some remarkable contributions. At the same time nothing really grates - as the risk often is with group selections around this time of year.
Simon Morris‘ Black Water Colour Painting - with its soft velvety, black-charcoally, ‘planks’ all tonally gradated in diminishing saturation - impresses with its scale, logic, and seductive physical presence. For me personally, this is the work that makes the show worth visiting, a fuzzy blanket I want to dive into, a cuddly wall of angled stripes that like a cat, I want to rub my flanks against. It affects me neurologically with its pure tactility and methodically reduced watery chroma.
One of the two Stephen Bamburys I also like a great deal, though in a more distanced cerebral manner. SC119166 I prefer much more than the too minimal 1C0889330, because of his use of black rectangles and vertical slivers which balance on and hang off the arms of an orange cross. There is a strange asymmetrical tension between the left and righthand sides of the painting, and a wit concerning the two butted-together panels and the hairline crack in between.
Elizabeth Thomson’s rippled teal blue rectangle is based on a photograph of a swimming pool, and certainly it provides a much appreciated temperature drop in the summer heat, just as the flickering flamelike palette of the Gretchen Albrecht provides a rich warmth that affects you during winter. The Albrecht though I find more interesting visually with its layered angular stains and horizontal yellow bars. They provide reasons to optically linger outside of contingencies of climate. Both provide treatments of light but Albrecht’s gradual building of flickering hot gaseous fluid for me is much more satisfying, and a nice foil for Morris and his procedural pigmented dilution.
Boyd Webb’s photograph of fabric flowers (poppies?) makes me dizzy with confusion as their pollen covered stamens happen to remind me of fish and chips or crisply fried (and deliciously crunchy) scallops. Albeit perverse, my rumbling stomach dominates my perception of these examples of ersatz botany enlarged, a disastrous consequence perhaps of the current, indulgent, gustatory season. Webb really needs more contextualising work to let his images assert a stronger presence. His solitary figurative image is at odds with the other contributors - for this show doesn’t do him justice.
Brett Graham‘s eggshaped relief sculpture, Uru, seems related to his earlier series with similarly radiating grooves that referenced the recent Pacific tsunamis. This black lacquered ‘shield’ has a layered complexity in its epicentre, an unsettling twisting movement - a shimmering restlessness - in its glistening finely chiselled core that is hard to pin down. Its title refers to the Western Hemisphere.
This ambiguity continues with Denis O’Connor’s two slate works that play directly with language and categories of image. One diagram seems akin to charts of parts of the brain and their functions relating to the co-ordination of bodily extremities. The other dwells on morphological similarities between unusual animal-headed handles of serving cutlery and parts of the undulating instep of the human foot. O’Connor’s interest in handheld implements seems to lock in with Morris and Albrecht and their interest in the sweeping reach of the moving brush and arm.
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