East Midlands

Entering Backlit and I suddenly gained my investigatory head, donning my smoker’s jacket with leather elbow patches and a pipe for good measure. As much as I knew the building well, ‘Raw’ pushed my senses of what could be possible. Straight lines were invisible, gravity played with and questioned – which all seemed in a days work for the gallery.

Livia Garcia’s work presented everyday objects through the mind of someone with a vividly creative imagination. Eggs shells broken and pictures of human eyes inserted inside of them had me crouching on the ground like the mother hen carefully studying her chicks. The shells seemed to be migrating away from a lonesome cardboard box which I couldn’t help but impart my over associating artistic mind that the box was a metaphor for the freedom escaping a possible battery farm. Outlandish explanation? Probably. But my ideas seemed valid as everything seemed possible. I knew the eyes weren’t real, but with them staring back at me they seemed every bit true as ‘Raw’ created this sense of ‘realness’ – what I am seeing is the truth within theses gallery walls. Possibility continued in Garcia’s work. Methodically, oxo cubes (the most banal household material everyone in Britain has lurking in their herb cupboard) were repackaged and placed upon circles of hand drawn charts. Spheres of wax were mapped out across a small board like a child’s map of the galaxy. It seemed like I was entering in the midst of an investigation but with elements of childhood curiosity and oddity breaking through. The boards were placed on a rickety stepladder showing Garcia removed objects “out of their ordinary context” creating an intrigue around something we often overlook and put straight in the cooking pot.

Charles Avery’s anthropological investigations of ‘The Islanders’ never seemed far away from this exhibition. Avery’s meticulous creation of a whole island full of Ridables, Unridables, and Heidlees Magregors’s Bars’ is truth in every sense. So fixated upon the creation of this world every aspect becomes a fictitious reality. His capability to question what people often dream, places a feeling of wonderment and possibility in an art gallery. Garcia delves into this buy placing ordinary with ordinary to create unordinary. ‘A Pond for Knowledge’ asks what is feasible in the shape of a needle hanging by navy thread from the ceiling pointing at 30 degrees to a crisp dried leaf with an ‘A’ imprinted on to it’s skin. The clumsy nature of the assemblage (cellotape and remnants clearly visible) just adds more to the intrigue. Feeling as though I’ve witnessed the artist battling with the physically impossible draws me further and further in.

Kipps too is enticing. Seducing me with a large black and purple structure that is delicately wedged whilst forcefully crammed (if the two polar opposites can work together, but as before I feel anything can in this exhibition) into the small confinements of Backlit’s project space. Slick black wood is joined together with Kipps’ trademark white spirit soaked canvasses, this time a gorgeously rich purple. Desperate to investigate further, as with the whole of the exhibition, I try to peer above to see beyond the mountainous curvature of the canvas. With the want of more knowledge that I feel Kipps might allow me to see the inner workings, the shell and body of his creation, but right at the last second Kipps creates a barrier not allowing me to see what lurks beyond and keeps that last bit of secrecy all to himself.

Kipps’ next piece, a black structure reminded me of Miroslaw Balka’s box of darkness, so with trepidation I paced the box. The awful exterior with rushed and patchy painting of black on the box, I worried Kipps had gone downhill. Had the struggle of life as an artist become too much for Kipps to handle? Pleasantly surprised however after delving a little deeper, I was faced with a beautiful interior. White canvas stretched and pulled taught in every which way angle created a curve so impeccably gorgeous. Under a sky of fluorescent orangey red, the chamber played with my vision as I became fixated with its creation. Relating once again back to Charles Avery, the “impossibility of finding truth” streamed through my mind. The Noumenon, in Avery’s ‘Islanders’ is a beast that has never been witnessed. With similar relation, Kant’s use of this word, is where he describes an “unknowable thing that cannot be observed with the senses but only conceived of or believed in”, and this seems apt with Kipps and the whole exhibition. You can figure out the creation of these pieces of art and the whole work collapses. Especially true to Backlit’s own Beth Shapeero. Witnessing more of her obsession with sexy blobs, this time they were suspended perfectly on a solid wall. Believing that Shapeero had self constructed an anti gravity machine in the room to stop nature’s ability to drip, made the work even more beautiful. And as Kant states, it seems better to believe in what they are presenting – the defying of gravity and the ability to play with our senses, as this becomes something more real, more beautiful and ultimately more fun.