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Goldfish, Penzance 21st March - 17th April 2008
Goldfish presents its first show of 08 in its usual inspiring and risk-taking fashion. Mixed/No Theme is paradoxically unified with an unconscious mood of vulnerability, anxiety and apocalypse.
In the opening room Jesse Leroy Smith's large work 'Mascara' comments on a child's premature entry into the cold glamour of adulthood; the make-up almost disfiguring, whilst on the adjoining wall Daryl Waller's projected video work 'Malabar Guilt' plays with the ordinariness of childhood & gift giving. The synchronised movements of the two boys at first suggest a tandem of friendship, but Waller's choice to show the hand and half-face of the gift-giver at the edge of the screen lends it a sinister tone, as does one of the boys throwing a red, digitised stare to the other: a hook into the film Predator perhaps?
Zoe Cameron's 'Hostage' depicting an ordinarily dressed woman, with bare feet tied to a chair, her face searching outward – brings a question to the viewer as to whether the hands are tied/untied in reality or held hostage to a role. On a near wall Kate Walter's 'Child with Heart', 'Block', 'Column & Faith' echoes that visual thought here; a child blinded by life, bound to a chair, the heart above – raising questions of initiation/constriction. Geraldine Cox's 'Spacemen' (above bottom), inspired by a private executive airport lounge, links further to Zoe Cameron's 'Hostage' as it looks at the absurdity of the roles that people give to themselves; becoming isolated from their own power and connection with others.
David Whitaker's two works 'Central House' & 'Air' (below top) share a theme of anxiety, told in a completely unique style: this artist explores the head as a recurrent theme. Working in a different way there is a continued theme with Kenneth Spooner's 'Head'.
Rupert White is present in several pieces that comment on the nonsense of icons and consumerism: 'Wicker Man' is a maquette referring to the 70s film, with Burger King straws binding the figure, and 'Briar', a clever & wry piece comprising an IKEA pencil with thorny fins.
This artistic attitude is somewhat shared by Paul Chaney's 'Fish n Chip' (above) & 'Millenium Bug' on the first floor. Chaney's other work in the front top room takes on a darker commentary with 'Memorial to Road-Kill Foxes' being a homage and tribal offering; one fox upturned, the other looking on. The piece is to be finalised when it is cast from lead made from wheel balance weights. Chaney's other work 'Fall 07' shows a chronological series of photographs of dead flies, with lead sarcophagi on a plinth underneath housing each deceased insect.
It would be nice to see more of David Doble's visually poetic work. His one painting 'Untitled' has a primordial essence with the limited capacity of the human form vapourised into limitlessness. This poetry of presentation is somewhat shared by Ivan Zadok Bray and his lyrical painting of Oedipus reclining (below top), his god-head above him, his journey before him; dreaming a man's dream or that of a god?
In a different style completely is Tim Shaw's 'Burnt Head'; which is both compelling and political. Due to its placement upon the floor of the gallery space the decapitated head at first look resembles a bomb and shouts a disembodied uncomfortable truth, an outcome that we have all contributed to.
David Kemp has several works in the show and his omnipotent 'Hot Cross Easter' (above middle) has a modern-age crucified figure with its entrapments, a ladder by the side cleverly provoking an idea of choice – as to whether or not to climb up and rescue. Also working with metal and found materials are Daniel Barnard with 'Tool' and Seamus Moran's 'Erotomania' (above); a scrap metal kundalini suggesting the fusing of two spines; winged at the ends.
Michael Rees' Black Angel was mesmerising, but seemed to acknowledge that non-white people are, culturally, still seen as 'other'. On the top stairs one encounters Andrew Litten's 'Hoodies' (below top); bringing beauty to a media-fed scourge, transforming them to celestial beings in cowls. In the top room his huge piece entitled 'Dog Breeder' comments on the contrast between the male sex drive and female nurturing. This work presents a large dog with small ones feeding off it, almost echoing the shape of a praying mantis or queen wasp. There is something sick and depraved within the work, but the green background twists it with gaiety and a typical Litten wit.
In the top back room there are two impressive pieces by Joy Wolfenden Brown (above bottom), both 'Untitled' they present fearful faces unsure of what is behind, anxious about enforced role. Simon Averill has contributed a most beautiful, delicate painting reminiscent of Japanese water and reed depictions (above middle); which causes one to stand for a while and flow with the rhythm of the piece whilst opposite one finds echoes of that flow in Simon Allen's Current II (above bottom).
Goldfish is, as ever, an interesting place to be.
David Whitaker has a solo show 'If This Life' starting on April 17th at Goldfish
Video courtesy Joe Clark