Venue
Victoria Court Interiors
Location

Upon entering Throes a class of anubis school boys and their teacher greet you mutely. They sit contently, un-puzzled by their own strange existence. In blazers, stripy ties and grey trousers these seated, uniformed, jackal-headed, fury hybrids casually vie for attention on a largely unused row of shop fronts. They welcome you in to Throes, an exhibition of works discussing painful notions and anxious observations of the human condition. The work at Throes maintains modesty at points and is outlandish or immediate elsewhere. Throe is a noun describing the pains of childbirth or death, it can also be applied to other emotional or violent pains.

The exhibition is split between two rooms, the first is brightly lit which contains Heather Tweed’s Anubis School Boys sculptures and has large windows at the front looking out on a street heavy with one way traffic. Many passers by and people caught up in the rush hour jams look in on this first room. The Anubis School Boys were fun but it was two of four works at the back of this room that really excited me.

In a performance shown on a television, Paul Timony seems to be mocking someone, though we aren’t sure who, with what is either a satire of, or homage to, Paul McCarthy’s performances. He has created his own aggressive, sexual, instinctual performance (possibly in his mums living room) involving bananas, sauces, wigs and masks and hilariously presents it to us as an informative art programme. The brief moment when Timony breaks away from his messy antics, answering his interrupting phone with cream on his face and torso and proclaims in his Irish accent “Hello Mammy!” was hilarious; climatic. Peter’s Paintbox: How to make Performance Art is a humorous and enjoyable work, this brief reference to his mother, while initially funny, possibly hints at the viewer to think of domesticity and family in this sexual and violent situation. The curators Alexandria Clark and Charlie Pratley have grouped works of a similar nature nearby. Three further works continue an unpleasant and either shameful or distressing view of sex with varying levels of personal involvement.

Furniture is rendered useless as twelve aged issues of Playboy are bent double and slipped between the bars of a baby’s cot. Daniel Barnard has left this small sculpture untitled and as such we have to ask the questions: when are these magazines from? Are the twelve issues from a significant year? Significant to whom? And why a cot? The relations between sex and birth are easily imagined but this is a very deliberate assemblage that is irritatingly ambiguous.

On the wall behind, Samia Saidi presents Internal Landscape. A microscopic photograph, which the blurb tells us, is of her menstrual blood. Very little else is stated. Perhaps this rather beautiful image is here quite plainly for consideration. It could manage to become quite a catalyst for the concepts of some other works in the show. But I wasn’t terribly enthralled to see this large A1 examination.

I didn’t get much clarity from these two works, the cot-piece reminded me strangely of works by Tom Friedman but perhaps owes more to artists like Sarah Lucas. Samia Saidi’s photograph, whilst initially provocative gave away little else in the way of information or thought and soon became banal.

The last in this quartet of loud sexual works is a stocky painting by Thomas Donaldson entitled A Pig, a Clown and a Sex Object. With a painting style much indebted to Francis Bacon three grey figures loom over us on this large canvas. A pig with human arms reaches out of his green shirt which prominently displays ‘I Heart BK’. One arm goes around the back of an overweight, kneeling, naked balding man with red smears and dabs around his mouth, he in turn, puts his arm around the pig. The pig’s other arm rests upon a prostitute’s raised buttock, she is lowest in the image and looks around at us with her vacant mouth gaping while her rear is laid bare and raised up as if waiting pornographically. Above her and next to the pig are three black rectangles with lager written in them insinuating neon signs. Donaldson as a westerner living in Bangkok portrays with disappointment and anger his frustration over what Bangkok has come to be used for by tourists seeking cheap gritty thrills. Donaldson names the embodiments present with pity and slur in his title. We needn’t know all the details as the work says enough by itself, however the blurb focuses the artists’ intention and puts this work in context.

Donaldson and Timony are being aggressive and playful, and as such I like them. Neither of the artists’ work holds back and both have provided a punchy humour while flirting openly with the conflictions surrounding aggression and sex.

Throes let us enjoy quite aggressive and sexual works of serious, personal or humorous nature, yet the serious undertones were subtly inexplicit. Quite stubbornly some of these works have embedded their image onto my memory in a nagging fashion. The work isn’t painful, and for that I am glad.


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