|Fearful Symmetry ~
2 to 25 october 2009
|text | images|
|Tom Owen, Graham Reid, John Summers, Jeremy Willett
Open Wednesday to Sunday, 12noon - 6pm, or by appointment.
Private view: Thursday 1st October, 6 - 9pm
The hand and eye that created the tiger in Blake's poem were immortal, of course - that was his point. In this show the mortal hand and eye of four artists, using painting, sculpture and video, have made work in which, in different ways, their material presence is maintained through the use of gesture; the physicality of the shaping intelligence.
One sculptor (Willett) paints, cuts, and glues, while another (Summers) might mould and then paint; the painter (Owen) attaches extra material to a surface already brush-marked. Reid tests the concept to its limit by denying it: reducing solid matter to the flatness and intangibility of projection.
It's the materiality that's crucial. Figurative, broadly speaking - formed into however loose a referent to the world outside, the work is immediate and impatient with boundaries. Willett makes sculptures from the materials of painting, canvas, wood and paint, Owen mixes collage and painting, Reid dissolves the real into the virtual. Summers' composing methods are closer to decomposition, the works suspended in a state of arrested decay. Through the reality and complexity of their existence in this world other dimensions and interrelationships are suggested, continuing either in real space or the space of the imagination, out into the realm of the viewer.
An aspect of the show that has nothing at all to do with Blake or his tiger is the works' positioning on a sliding scale of subjectivity. From Tom Owen’s vivid brushstrokes – sometimes almost slashes - (a very contemporary expressionism) not quite offset by the interventions of collage, through John Summers’ distorted figures, not so much amorphous as shapes whose definition has been battered out of them, balanced on their spindly heavily textured plinths - to Jeremy Willett’s flowers, brilliantly coloured but fading or deeply frost-bitten, fused with their stone- or bone-like supports: a faint echo of kitsch dissolved in the bleak atmosphere of arte povera. Graham Reid ends by cancelling the whole project, with images of art at a double remove, photographed replicas of work remade from postcards. The image, to be exact, of an image of an image of an image. Mechanical reproduction, indeed.
The process of making, the hand moving almost too quickly for the directing mind, produces results whose immediacy can seem to have almost bypassed choice. So what’s the feeling here of not-so-quiet desperation, dark undercurrents running deep. It’s the repressed, is it, returning with a vengeance?
Did He who made the lamb make thee?