Exhibition: to take a-way (one)
Nolias Gallery, 201 Liverpool Road, London N1 1LX, 21-27 July 11am-6pm
The current show at Nolias Gallery, Liverpool Road, features the work of more than 25 artists – almost all of whom are recent graduates of Central Saint Martins. The dominant form is object-based, but there are also videos, drawings and photographs on display, and even the remnants of a performance piece or two.
As attention spans aren’t quite what they used to be, I’ll cut straight to what ought to be the last paragraph. This show is very much worth a visit: good-natured, funny and intelligent, a series of materialised thought experiments that, for once, really do invite the hypothetical spectator to look and think again. Not all of it’s that good, but you have only until Friday 27th July to see the things that are.
While Nolias isn’t the smallest of London’s ‘little galleries’, a group show of this size can only be accommodated by allowing for different artists’ pieces to interact with and even impose on each other. Surprisingly, perhaps, this has resulted in a remarkably unified show, with brand-enhancing sensationalism and distinctiveness giving way to the expression of a shared sensibility. And it is this sensibility, which privileges the ordinary and everyday, jokes, puns, exaggeration and understatement, the impractical and irrelevant, that both gives the show a forceful, serious charm, and suggests its possible limitation.
The productive similarities between Caroline Mackenzie’s concertina’d ladder and Jamie Bowler’s spade-as-chair, for example, or between Craig Kao’s videos and Nicholas Brown’s ‘frustrated’ machine, place art and its productions firmly within the space of ordinary life and everyday objects, valuing these for the gratuitous pleasure and meaning they are capable of generating – characteristics that exceed precisely the officially administered everyday world. But in dialogue with Maxfield Bozeat’s oven, say, at the bottom of which the fat of a roasted rabbit has congealed, this positive narrative reveals itself supremely fragile – how quickly the pleasure of the everyday slides into the pleasure of everyday violence. There’s a knife by those minuscule lemons (Isabelle Webster), and there are a lot of little animals that might end up in the oven.
The other concluding paragraph: an ambivalent show, in the strong Freudian sense; it’ll be sunny, with intimations of disaster.