Visual art exhibitions and events with a platform for critical writing
Surface Gallery, Nottingham
17 - 22 March 2011
Reviewed by: Jake Kent »
Well, this has finally brought an end to the exhibition drought we’ve had here in Nottingham. This sculpture exhibition is the result of intense collaboration between Rebecca Ounstead and Brendon Curtis. Their personal styles differ greatly but have been combined to create dialogues and dichotomies within the exhibition space.
The blackout blinds are drawn on the glass fronted gallery which hides the work and intensifies the curational use of lighting inside. Standing before me are three tall monoliths, two grey in the foreground and the furthest, pink (Ounstead). They are smooth, clean and minimalist. These towering structures desire to be perfect, however there are at least two things that won’t allow this. The first being purposely placed swimwear and puddles (water & Vaseline) lay on the floor hint at a sexual narrative. The second being the natural: walnuts, soil used in Curtis’ works, plants, - these objects purposefully sully their fabricated counterparts.
The positioning of the monoliths forces direction through the space which is filled with hints of Curtis’ hidden work. Small collaborations litter the floor and sides of the gallery; they evidence an exploration of dichotomy and sabotage. Soil mountains with pointed, rough, brown towers erupting from them, small pink twists of clay sat on glass, broken mirrors and potted plants… Each work is highlighted and bold shadows are created. Mottled glass and blue filters added to the lights in first part of the exhibition enforce the division between Ounstead and Curtis’ main bodies of work. The light on one wall reminds me of light reflecting off a swimming pool onto a wall; this is a hint at movement while the light remains static.
There are fans in use, one blowing a large piece of translucent material which is attached to the top of the dividing wall (which hides Curtis’ work) and ends just before touching the back of the pink monolith. There is a moving shadow created on the wall as the material flows and ripples. This natural movement reminds the viewer of the previous human presence (the leaver of the swim wear).
Curtis’ work is made in response to Ounstead’s and sits at the back of the space on top of six wooden pallets (three high, two across). Lit by yellowed light, (but led up to by blue bikini bottoms) Curtis’ sculpture is a huge tangle of more rough, brown, pointed towers jutting out from a soil base. They are sharp and abrasive even though they are made from polystyrene. Grotesque slime dribbles down the towers and is now set and static. Ideas of a futuristic, dystopian landscape are created; the idea of landscape is reinforced by scattered grasses that stand in the soil. The yellow light, like a setting sun, creates tall shadows against the wall behind. The height of the towers is subtly extended and they become overbearing and menacing.
The exhibition showed the positive possibilities of collaboration and strong individual works. There was hint of an event which stimulated my imagination and movement which reinforced a preceding human presence. What also impressed me was the positioning of the work and the lighting which helped divide the two main bodies of work. Slippery When Wet has inspired and impressed me more than any other Nottingham exhibition so far this year. I hope to see more of the same high standard.
Jake Kent, Themeless Group memeber, NTU student
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