Wednesday, 1 November 2017

Neill Fuller Studio Visit


I live in a house built entirely from tin, with four tin walls, a roof of tin, a chimney and door. Entirely from tin.
-extract from Three to See the King by Magnus Mills


Neill Fuller has what could be described as the perfect working studio. It’s big enough for the artist, his tools and his paintings, yet it’s small enough to remain cosy and cave-like, ideal in which to squirrel oneself away for hours at a time. With the door shut it becomes a cell: a monastic retreat where the outside world is forgotten for painterly concerns and ritualistic behaviours.

Along one wall are a cluster of tiny utilitarian and simply made shelves, all supporting small-scale paintings on board or canvas, each depicting a still-life scene or tableaux of random objects. Brightly coloured and often with a strong light source, the paintings offer up recognisable parts that never quite reveal their origin: there’s an uncomfortable disconnect from the real world with a nagging sense of familiarity. ‘It’s on the tip of my tongue’ you might say, only you’ll never find out because Fuller rarely really gives anything away. It’s a game and you don’t have all the pieces.


neill fuller
Neill Fuller's paintbox and palette


Fortunately I’ve been allowed into the inner chamber where big decisions are made and tiny brushstrokes are laid. A recent move from an even smaller studio has given Fuller a chance to spread out - a large tiered stage with various arrangements of bits ‘n’ bobs is a noticeable addition. These ‘sets’ provide a physical presence of what is later translated into paint: small structures with a bright lamp throwing shadows, defining forms. The individual elements of each set-up, or still-life, resemble toy parts or the type of objects one finds lurking in the bottom of a box after a house move – lost components forever looking for their rightful home amongst other random parts. Typically Fuller never reacquaints what rightfully belong together, instead seeking to juxtapose and build new constructions that suggest something other. Slightly ramshackle in nature they could fall apart at any moment, yet once rendered in paint they become solid and loom large on the, usually tiny, canvas.

Some formations remain in place and are used again and again in different paintings. One particular motif is a yellow block with two holes that automatically turn into eyes, whilst we mentally construct a face from the other bits. There’s something darkly humorous and almost slapstick about the anthropomorphic scale of everything. This repetitious use of elements calls to mind the obsessive mentality often found in the extreme male brain – it’s not quite train-geek territory but it’s damn close.


neill fuller
Neill Fuller's studio


It follows then that Fuller is a fan of the writing of Magnus Mills – a passion we both share. A former bus driver, Mills creates stories like Screwtop Thompson or The Scheme for Full Employment where we’re faced with unsettling situations that are funny but tinged with malevolence. Most of the characters are men of a certain ilk who practice a particular way of working or living where everything is just so. And that’s it. Every story is pretty much the same as another, but you keep reading - something is pulling you in. There’s a unique deadpan humour quite unlike any other writing and it belies its simplicity. If you were to visualise the world of Mills it might not be far removed from Fuller’s paintings – the structure, the considered form and the sense that a man in a shed has cobbled it all together for his own amusement.

Fuller took this notion of the absurd further with his recent ‘work-a-day’ series. Over the course of three months he produced 50 paintings, each for sale at £50, approximating the amount of time he spent on each painting with a given remuneration – the UK’s daily minimum wage. Equating his studio practice with the employment of any other office worker, shop assistant or cleaner, Fuller placed himself as an everyman in a situation that was at odds with his extraordinary output. He described it himself as a ‘fool’s errand’: the idea that churning out a bunch of paintings could remain equally enjoyable as a task, of suitably consistent quality and also financially viable. Yet it worked. Where the majority of artists might succumb to ‘inspiration’ and only create when in the mood, Fuller painted through the pain barrier, producing the goods whether he felt like it or not. In a sense he was painting himself out of trouble and becoming a better painter along the way.


neill fuller
Neill Fuller's studio


Looking at the collection of work on the walls of his studio, there’s a great luminosity of spirit displayed within – the paintings are joyous to behold. This becomes apparent more readily when viewing his works-in-progress as it’s possible to see the gradual layering process. The first, loose, application of paint is usually an incredibly bright acrylic colour, which is then worked on with further applications of oil paint. This glowing under-painting sings through the top layers creating a quality of light that is almost hyper-real and the brain is tricked into another territory: a place of nostalgia and play.

To encounter Fuller’s paintings is to wonder at the world as if a child, with a smile that is both welcoming yet wary. The seemingly simple, methodical, repetitious acts are consistent and trustworthy, but there’s always something looming over the horizon: those dark corners hide sharp pieces.

Neill Fuller is an artist based in Bath. More information about his work can be found at neillfullerpaintings.com

Thursday, 19 October 2017

Sidney Nolan Open Studio

I discovered Sidney Nolan’s paintings conspicuously late. One of his most famous Ned Kelly works featured in a long-forgotten painting anthology I once owned as a young student of art, but for some reason it never touched me. At that time the black-box-headed character on a horse left no impression. Several years later however and twenty years of having never chanced upon his name or work again, I suddenly found him, only this time I can’t get enough. Aided by a recent exhibition of his spray-painted portraits at Ikon Gallery in Birmingham, my newly found appreciation of Nolan’s later paintings has become an obsession. Those fuzzy, dreamy, troubling images speak to me now.

Trawling the internet uncovered new things: the Sidney Nolan Trust together with a residency programme I had just missed the deadline for, and a chance to view Nolan’s studio as he left it when he died in 1992. He would’ve turned 100 this year (2017) and to commemorate this occasion the Trust decided to remove the plastic seal protecting his studio since his death. Sensing an opportunity I cajoled my wife to join me in a journey north: on a whim we headed to Presteigne on the Wales/England border in our rusty Ford Fiesta.

It took a long time to arrive at The Rodd. The middle-of-nowhere was writ large on Google Maps. ‘Where the hell are we..?’ I mused as we were directed to ‘PARK NEXT TO HEDGE’ in an empty field bigger than Wembley, ‘This is glorious...’. Green fields spread for miles in every direction and acres of sky soared overhead. It’s tempting to think that working in such splendid isolation must’ve affected Nolan’s late working practice, pushing quiet emptiness into those sparse, out-of-focus paintings.


Stepping foot into his modest studio there was a sense of recognition: this was a space similar to many I have encountered hundreds of times before. Shelves bursting with myriad products and materials; work surfaces littered with detritus, pots and tools; reading material stacked in piles and half-read books eyeing you from the table-top. I was home. This is my studio. This is every artist’s studio. Nolan’s working space is sadly caught in flux however, forever ready but never able to perform as it rightfully should. Melancholy loomed. This small but functional place would never again feel the energy that was once generated between its walls. No more hustle bustle.





Standing in the entrance steadily observing it all, eyes wide desperate not to miss a thing, I soon began to realise I was probably being fed a myth. The placement of Nolan’s apron, the arrangement of his glasses on the table and the provocative humanity of his casually positioned studio shoes – this wasn’t how he left the studio when he died. This was planned engineering. No doubt orchestrated by the Trust to suggest truncated activity, the set-up was almost too perfect to be a genuine time capsule. But did it matter? I’m not sure it did. Much of his working environment is exactly how most studios appear: any sense of order giving way to chaos and acts of creativity. Those sentimental adjustments made by the Trust are just building upon the romantic idea of the artist in his cave, making paintings. It's what visitors want to see. And after driving all that way it was exactly what I wanted to see too.



Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Zhang Enli

Four Seasons
Hauser & Wirth Somerset
8th March-21st June 2015

'The Tree Stump' (2), Zhang Enli, 2015


Thin cloud. Light rain.
Far cell. Closed noon.
Sit. Look. Green moss
Becomes one with your clothes.

Wang Wei – Eighth Century Tang Dynasty poet


The poems of Chinese poet, painter and musician Wang Wei feature little human presence and sparse detail, yet within them are the possibility of painting. We feel as if we are within the words and almost no conscious effort is needed to read them. Himself a painter of some note, Wang Wei managed to capture an understanding of the world’s beauty by displaying its emptiness. Some quiet reflection on the way to enlightenment. Sadly none of his paintings survive but his oeuvre has influenced scores of artists over the years, including the work of Zhang Enli.

Before even seeing Enli’s work you become aware of it. In the entrance hall ahead of the gallery space there is a faint aroma redolent of the sea: a thick, oily odour of fish and the briny deep. Your senses are bemused by the attack. The smell is no doubt size or primer used in preparation of the canvases you behold once in the main space, but it serves to subtly transport you somewhere beyond your immediate surroundings.

The vast paintings by Enli further this conveyance. Stand in front of one and you cannot see the edges; you are lost in a seething sea. All nine works in the room depict water in various states of flow, fluidity or calm, each one simply called ‘The Water’. Such is the framing of every image we are unsure whether we’re looking at an ocean or a lake, a river or stream. Sweeping washes of paint describe every surge, ooze and swirl of water in its natural environment. On one canvas the green, snake-like paintwork alludes to a gently rippling millpond or a seaweed-infested estuary. Another work suggests crashing waves, white foam fizzing and frothing; here we are fishermen experiencing nature in full force, alone at sea and staring into the abyss.

Enli does not paint from life however, instead choosing to use photographs and memory to create the works. Underlining and forming a framework to the paintings are grid-like pencil lines that belie the free flowing brushwork on the surface. This barely perceptible structure actually serves to anchor the paintings in some way, whilst the thick, hessian-like canvas offers a solid base to his curiously light touch. Indeed, the thin washes of paint suggest the delicate porcelain of Chinese ceramics; hold them to the light and they would surely be translucent.

Around the corner we enter a den of thick forest. Every surface has been covered in paint and we are ostensibly pulled in to Enli’s world more fully. Trees tower overhead crowding you in. Foliage conceals and shadows our movements. Yet whilst these brush-marks have moved beyond the canvas and into our world, it’s as if the flatness of the ceiling and walls has diminished their power: you remain stuck within the confines of a gallery space. The illusion has been exposed as a trick. As an immersive experience you are left feeling vulnerable and disorientated, lost in unfamiliar territory and needing safe haven.

Walk through this 'space-painting' and we encounter more of Enli’s giant canvases. In these works the waves have swept away leaving behind wet bark and mossy wood. We’re looking up and through trees and we have no sense of their desolate surroundings. They are single forms standing stark against a white sky. This damp, dank woodland seems to offer little hope. The close cropping of each work serves to isolate the tree from its roots but also from the tips of its branches; we are looking at a body, a form. There’s a sense of dread at play here in works like 'The Branches' (4) or 'The Tree Stump' (2), as snake-like vines writhe malevolently around trunks and dark branches swoop like shadows from another world.

Despite the underlying tinges of darkness there is a feeling that Enli is grappling with something larger, something higher. Notions of Buddhism and existential attitude drift within all the paintings. There is a sense of solitude. We are encouraged to consider the smallness of things in the vast sea of living; our spiritual growth from sapling to decaying tree stump. Like the recluse in Wang Wei’s poem Meditation, if we spend enough time reflecting on our existence we will eventually become one with our environment.

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Writhe and Jerk

Rachel Busby, Gordon Dalton, Terry Greene, Brendan Lancaster, Sarah McNulty

Transition Gallery, London

17th Jan-15th Feb 2015


'Pretty Ugly' Gordon Dalton 2014

In the notes for Writhe and Jerk at Transition Gallery, we are told the paintings are ‘wrestling something out of the materials, their battered beauty is hard fought for, writhing and jerking on the canvas’. Wandering around the exhibition you can’t help thinking about that wrestling. Long ago in my childhood I remember watching Grandstand on Saturday afternoons at my grandparents house. Invariably it would be the wrestlers that fascinated most - Big Daddy versus Giant Haystacks the pantomime contest we all looked forward to and cheered with gusto. Looking back, it always felt as if the wrestling arena was full of smoke: overweight athletes toking on tabs before the bout and not giving a damn to the consequences. It probably wasn’t the case at all of course - I’m no doubt getting confused with darts played in smoky working men’s clubs – but our mind can play tricks on us.
The paintings on show here prowl and leer at you from the walls like bad memories. You can almost believe they were outside puffing on cigarettes before stepping inside the ring. There’s a sense of belligerence as they encircle you and it’s necessary to watch your back as you study their form. Unlike the wrestlers from yesteryear however, the paintings are relatively small. They’re something akin to Satan’s Cavemen, those tenacious midget wrestlers in the film Nacho Libre. Compact but muscular and utterly terrifying: a tag-team from hell.
Sarah McNulty’s Dug greets our entrance. Its simplicity belies to confuse and we stumble over its wires. At once both nothing and something, the suggestion of form is cartoonish and carefree. You think of furrows and fields and barbwire. Likewise her Flat Steel features similar thick lines, though this time giving the sense of comedy eyebrows or hairy caterpillars. The paint has moved quickly over the surface as if trying to escape – it squirms and twitches in spite of itself.
The same could be said for Rachel Busby’s work, but here recognisable motifs are allowed to feature. The two works on show Tree of Life and Tree of Life V appear to be paintings of still-life paintings of plants – they are painted quickly and threaten to burst from the frame that rings them. Each is a quick gesture that bounces around the canvas. The mood is light and the washes of colour are thin and see-through, like bone china in sunlight.
The paintings by Terry Greene and Brendan Lancaster ramp up the humour. Whilst the other work appears to have been painted with brushes, Greene’s seem to have been formed from something else. This is less about fluid motion and more about slapping and grappling. The acidic paint looks sticky or tacky, as if it’s been applied with a stamp; there’s a sense of fun and play at work here. Bunting, watermelons and carnival atmosphere are imbued in the angular display. In his painting To Love and Serve this City, Lancaster offers us the underpants-over-tights injection of theatre. Like a clunky super hero whooshing across a page, there’s an element of slapstick in the performance. However, as with Roadside Picnic, the sense of lightheartedness is blurred and brushed out by an overwhelming sensation of drizzling reality.
It’s bloody pouring down in I Miss the Comfort in Being Sad by Gordon Dalton. Peering through the curtain to the outside world (or is it an interior void?) there’s the feeling of being stuck in a dead-end town with only memories for support. A tinge of blue sky presents a sliver of hope. Other paintings have been painted over to create this work and we float in and out of them all, desperately trying to find a foothold. It’s like looking into a television screen filled with smoke. Dalton’s muscular works are dry, dusty visions moments before a spark sets them alight. Struggling to stay on the canvas his paintings are the epitome of the writhing and jerking nature of the exhibition; a half-nelson grip guaranteed to send you reeling.

Originally published on a-n.co.uk January 2015

Some old reviews from the vaults...

Gordon Dalton Idiot Convention

Motorcade/Flashparade, Bristol

28th June-7th July 2013
'Does Anyone Ever Get This Right' Gordon Dalton 2013
Photo: Thomas Heming

In John Kennedy Toole’s novel ‘A Confederacy of Dunces’, eccentric protagonist and flatulent anti-hero Ignatius J Reilly is on a mission against the world. Throughout the duration of the book he rails against authority and expounds views on the degeneracy of modern humanity, even taking his own mother to task for being, well, his poor, long-suffering mother. He is quite unlike any other character in the history of literature.
If one were to give the paintings in Gordon Dalton’s exhibition ‘Idiot Convention’ a voice, they would undoubtedly sound like the loquacious Ignatius and his every eructation. Eyeballing you from the wall they mock every thought about painting that runs through your poor, pretty head and stare down your pitiful views on art. Behind your back they laugh knowingly and puff on tabs; bilious smoke hangs thick in the air. Even Dalton himself wonders what the hell his paintings get up to when he’s not in the studio, hence the title of the show, so the question is are they laughing at us, or with us?
Crammed into the gallery are twenty-one works, each shouting for attention and demanding your eyes – it’s hard to know where to look. As you digest this visual clobbering the smog begins to clear: the chaos is obviously intentional and this is as much a lesson in the history of art as it is a simple exhibition of paintings. Everywhere you look are references to the work of some great artist or other: Philip Guston here, Martin Kippenberger there, a nod to Tal R… Victor Willing… René Daniëls… Giorgio Morandi… even Pierre Puvis de Chavannes - the list goes on and on. But this is not some pastiche or mimicry of the aforementioned artists. No, Dalton is creating his own language that openly begs, borrows and steals from the past and ultimately says ‘I’m just having fun’. By being wilfully obtuse, repetitive and curmudgeonly, he is actively exposing the truth in his work; that these are honest paintings by an artist who wants you to know what he knows but doesn’t give a damn if you get it or not. It’s a refreshing approach that would normally be distilled in other artists work by the quest for originality or a bid to seem unique. Such off-putting trivialities are of no concern to Dalton: this exhibition is unashamedly about painting and he wears his art on his sleeve.
The paintings themselves revel in what they are: coloured mud on canvas. It’s as if they’ve been dragged out of a swamp. ‘Juicy Lucy’ and ‘Serious Fun’ sweat gunge. Every so often occasional pops of colour break the primitive ooze and we are treated to sickly greens or limp yellows. ‘Last Night I Missed the Fireworks’ exemplifies this melding of colours and styles as we are treated to blood-red gallows against a brooding apocalyptic sky. Like the last man on earth, we’re tripping out. Everyday motifs such as trees, tennis-balls, pipes and smoke belch out of the paintings; you can imagine the back pages of Dalton’s school exercise books were once littered with similarly dumb iconography. They add a degree of humour to the work but at no stage do we laugh out loud, not unless we want to get a kicking.
At times you do crave some cohesion. It’s definitely there somewhere but Dalton wilfully disrupts the flow by placing stylistically opposing works together – he can’t help himself. In reality this could’ve been divided up into several smaller shows, but the artist has chosen to glue them together with a huge dollop of punk attitude and macho posturing. In this case more is more. It’s utter anarchy – but what a ride!
Originally published on a-n.co.uk 2013


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Brendan Lancaster Open Country
Motorcade/Flashparade, Bristol
19th-28th April 2013
'Ask Everything' Brendan Lancaster 2013
Photo: Brendan Lancaster

On setting foot into 'Open Country' there is an immediate visual assault akin to the aural discombobulation of stumbling into a smoky jazz club: you are not immediately sure where to focus your attention. The paintings ahead of you all individually resemble something, but at the same time look like nothing at all. Amidst this there is a recognisable tune but as slacker soloist, Brendan Lancaster breaks down its conventional form and has a wander into unknown quarters. Sometimes you're not even sure if he knows what he's doing or where he's going.
In some respects that is entirely the point. With titles such as 'Second thoughts', 'Having searched everywhere else’ and 'Blue maze' it's conceivable Lancaster has taken the great free jazz innovator Ornette Coleman's advice and decided to play with absolutely no idea what the end result might be. There is an arrangement of sorts but you wonder if the brain is actually working alongside the hand in the final brushstroke or wipe of paint. From the outset several of the works resemble heads or objects from a still life, but no sooner have you noticed this than linear actions disrupt the field and you're left with a framework with no discernible start or finish.
‘Disc’ typifies the architectural forms found within his paintings and suggest a way into the image. You begin to imagine this ramshackle construct housing a disagreeable individual cast out from society; apocalyptic visions abound in the earthy brown gunge. Look closer and it’s obvious this painting has been something before - perhaps another work that has gone wrong - so immediately a history within the paint is subtly forming without you really knowing it.
Lancaster’s most recent paintings have seen a shift into the use of raw colour, with ‘Second thoughts’ being the glaringly obvious example of this. Vicious yellow rubs along aggressively with a hot pink resembling freshly sunburnt skin, yet looming clouds from the past threaten to encroach and deaden the sting. Compared with paler and more pallid earlier works such as ‘Having searched everywhere else’, these newer paintings point towards a more physical approach hinting at cartoons and a gentle nod towards the art of Philip Guston.
‘Blue Maze’ exemplifies this the most with a blue figure taking centre stage. Something about its macho stance makes you want to laugh – is this intentional? Who knows, but it does allow for sound to reverberate around the gallery and mingle with the visual noise. Ultimately you cannot help but engage with Lancaster’s paintings. As they say in the jazz world, "he can cook like crazy".
Originally published on a-n.co.uk April 2013
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Dawn Mellor Vile Affections
Studio Voltaire, London
26th September - 28th October 2007
Photo: Colin Guillemet

Upon entering Studio Voltaire's gothic gallery space I'm confronted by a wall of celebrity. For a moment it's as if I've been transported into the magazine department of WHSmith's, browsing the gossip weeklies in search of a deliciously scandalous story. Except something's wrong. Something is terribly wrong. These aren't just contemporary celebrities, they're well known faces from throughout history and all are horrifically disfigured.
Gazing at Dawn Mellor's Vile Affections, the onslaught of sadistic imagery makes me want to laugh, cry and vomit all at the same time. Hung in a salon style these crudely painted portraits (there are 63 in total) of allegedly camp icons, clash in an amalgamation of vile butchery, cruel satirical commentary and scatological humour. Over there is a double headed Britney Spears playing dominoes and nearby, Mother Teresa, head in hands, chest deep in what appears to be baked beans. Down on the right is Cherie Blair insanely grinning, parading around in overly sexy underwear, two skulls at her feet. How odd. At the other end is wild-eyed hubby Tony with an awful purple Barney dinosaur key-ring dangling from his nose like some bizarre piercing. Most peculiar. It's a surreal information overload and I begin to wonder what this nefarious savagery is meant to be telling me.
From time to time we all doodle on old newspapers, place a pimple on Kerry Katona's cocaine ravaged nose, sketch a flaccid penis in David Beckham's provocatively placed hand. We've all been there and we've all smirked at our own self-important genius, right? Right? Ok, so maybe that's just me in my own degenerate world, but I can't help feeling some kind of empathetic kinship with Mellor's brutal depictions. I suppose it all comes down to our desire to find something in common with our idols. By transposing our own anxieties onto those we worship, in some way we make ourselves feel a whole lot better.
As a lifelong Morrissey fan myself, to see him speared and stabbed by paint brushes is a complex yet deeply meaningful proposition. His cutting remarks and literary genius are enough to make me swoon and I know I'll never be able to match his acerbic wit, yet using a brush laden with paint I know I could match his lyrical poetry in visual form. I suspect Dawn Mellor feels exactly the same.
Taking a painterly cudgel to faces of the famous, in a pregnant statement Mellor suggests the work is "...vulnerable to my own diarist situations...overloaded collusions of identity, bombardment of consumerist products and imagery, psychological trauma, political and financial impotency and so on as a catalogue of felt experiences of the isolation, frustration and anxiety of the urban condition." Quite. But in simple terms, by using camp humour to deconstruct celebrity figures, all Mellor seems to be doing is painting pictures that amuse her, and I for one applaud her for that. After all, who doesn't find an image of Faye Dunaway in bed covered in her own faecal matter hilarious? Janet Leigh having a shower from an anus spraying liquid diarrhoea everywhere is an image I've often courted but never dared create, whilst a crow pecking out the eyeball's of Alfred Hitchcock is a beautiful sight and one I shall never forget.
The act of taking famous faces from recent history and subjecting them to current social attitudes towards fame is an interesting concept. By painting these portraits Mellor simultaneously promotes and demolishes celebrity culture in much the same way as Heat or Closer. These magazines have taught us to admire our supposed heroes and then a week later chuckle at their very public downfall. Oh what a fickle and vicious bunch of creatures we humans are!
Originally published on a-n.co.uk October 2007
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Stay forever and ever and ever

South London Gallery
5th May - 6th June 2007


Photo: Marcus Leith



As I entered my kitchen this morning, eyeballing last nights washing up on the draining board, I pulled open the blind and stared at the ever present sight of the downstairs tenants backyard. It's full of rubbish. Not that you can really tell what it is - bits of wood sticking out of roofing felt, scrap metal rusting in the rain, a plethora of weeds growing out of, through and into everything, all creating a jungle effect that tends to grow bigger by the year. Sometimes there might be a plastic carrier bag caught in the fauna. I can call this vision to mind at will no matter where I am, such is its familiarity seared into my memory.
Walking around Stay forever and ever and ever, a group exhibition of eleven artists curated by Andrew Renton at the South London Gallery, I couldn't help but think of this back yard and various other random recollections from my past. Mexican artist Abraham Cruzvillegas' assemblage is made from everyday materials - hats, shells, shoes, dirt - all suspended from threads attached to a T-shaped timber frame construction covered in broken glass, which itself is hanging from the ceiling. It all suggests that anything you've ever touched or seen can be art. However, far from recalling Duchamp who famously took the piss by exhibiting a urinal in 1917, this work calls to mind personal memories of similar items adding weight and history to whatever the possible narrative could be.
All this is further expanded upon by Georg Herold's Rude Museum I and II where throwaway objects are displayed in a ramshackle vitrine calling to mind childhood day trips to the museum. There's nothing of any value here though, just cigarette butts, small tins of paint, nails, bits of wax, etc. I guess it's ultimately some kind of elevation of the ordinary into the revered and precious. I kept thinking of my neighbour's backyard.
Elsewhere, Spartacus Chetwynd has left behind evidence of performances in two sculptural objects. Slumped in the corner is Hokusai's Octapai, a huge octopus brought to life from a 17th Century erotic print, and falling apart at the back of the gallery is The Wall, a reconstruction of the opening sequence in the Incredible Hulk. When I say reconstruction, what I really mean is, large bits of cardboard have been stuck together and then painted to resemble a demolished brick wall - all across it someone has scrawled ‘DON'T MAKE ME ANGRY!'. Quite amusing but I couldn't help feeling lost by the absence of the green one himself - it was like watching one of those 100 Greatest Angry People TV programmes, getting a split-second clip of the thatch haired Hulk throwing someone over a car, and then irritatingly cutting back to the moon faced Jimmy Carr making some glib comment about the Hulk looking a bit green around the gills. I guess what I'm saying is; you want to see more, but unfortunately, as with all performance art, you just had to be there at the time.
Martin Boyce's constructions reminded me of dark, lonely walks through gritty urban environments like West Croydon. Telephone booth type structures stand empty and devoid of any means of communication, covered in graffiti. They make you feel quite desperate.
The only thing that really lightened the atmosphere a little was Monika Sosnowska's fragmented sculpture helpfully entitled untitled. Angular black blocks litter the floor looking as if the ceiling has just fallen through, the only give away that it hadn't being the intact paned roof above me. The digitalised nature of the rubble made it feel exactly like I was in Tron, walking around in a computer program, completely unable to fathom exactly what I was doing there.
As is the case with most contemporary art, nostalgia and recycling of imagery are the prevalent themes in this exhibition. One is constantly reminded of personal history as objects spark the grey cells to recall snippets of past thoughts, feelings and sights (that backyard again!). By naming it after a lyric from a Kylie Minogue song we are immediately transported into an ephemeral world where everything is throwaway, but just like an earworm, I can't seem to get this exhibition out of my head.

Originally published in a-n magazine, June issue 2007, but also available here.