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Talbot Rice Gallery, Edinburgh
21 April 2 June
Reviewed by: Rosie Lesso »
Alex Pollard is an artist well-versed in mind games, where what initially seems playful and light-hearted is proves to be cerebral or time-consumingly constructed, and this show is no exception. He has recently linked his practice with the accident-prone character Pierrot the Clown, emphasising an interest in folly and mistake-making, and clown references echo throughout the exhibition.
In a series of five drawings called Romos Getting Ready, washy backdrops are randomly covered in bits of broken eye pencils and shavings, like the debris from a clowns making-up session. Yet in one drawing the broken pieces have come together to form a clown face with pointy hat, like a hallucinogenic nightmare where detritus has come to life it is at once accidental and considered. Elsewhere a series of thick bronze coins called Clown Medallions, several feet high sit triumphantly upwards on a plinth, defying both the noble material and the time taken to cast them by being childishly handled, cack-handed, smudgy clown faces appearing where a figure of grandeur should be.
Nightscape appears to be a sparse seascape flimsily constructed from black and white objects stuck to the wall. Pencils several metres long are bent into unbelievable wave-like shapes, drawing lines on the wall behind them; black lipsticks have been reconstructed in resin and stuck to the wall above, and silver make-up compacts hover here and there pretending to be moons. The effort in constructing the simulated pencils/lipsticks is concealed, making it appear decadently playful. Pollards black and white oil paintings are also carefully constructed within the clown/make-up theme, where abstracted clown heads appear above piles of pencils and lipsticks twisting and bending outwards below them, shooting this way and that as if reflected in moving water. At times Pollard is monkeying around here with seductive, studio-based accidental discovery. Yet as always his happy accidents are deceptively simple and unexpectedly surprising, occurring only within his own carefully, intelligently laid out boundaries.
Rosie writes about contemporary art for a number of UK based journals.
Talbot Rice Gallery »
University of Edinburgh, Old College, South Bridge, EDINBURGH EH8 9YL
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