THESE DAYS ARE PERSISTENT AND CHANGEABLE is a title of an exhibition of art by Lorraine Burrell and Martin Boyle, at the Golden Thread Gallery from 28.04 – 11.06 2016.
What days are not that? Yours? Mine? Whatever answer is elicited, it will be either incomplete, or misleading, or provocative. This does not imply that the art exhibited in this exhibition is either or all. It only indicates the light approach to contemporary art as something akin Schiller’s “kingdom of freedom”. It is -whatever you make of it.
It tolerates opposition while employing a visual subterfuge. For example: the sculptures carry destroyed images like poster torn from the billboard, positing the object between art and waste. The lens based image is compressed between performance/modelling and printing, graduating the aura of original via two steps of alienation from the eye and and from the maker (inkjet print is as neutral as any printed page and dead until you read it.
Burrells exhibition consists of five two-dimensional inkjet prints, two drawings, one low relief and three three-dimensional sculptures. They share her chosen subject – female body – more or less.
Her representational style ranges from hyper-realism
Burrell’s concept of art reminds me of Marisol Escobar, who recently passed away. Burrell’s Deflated velds together observed and not observable while using pliable material. Marisol combined right angle and hard materials with observed portraits and appropriated materials. Both share the confidence in the force of fragmented view and in power of addition/ assemblage. Any part of Marisol’s group of female figures is not possible, yet believable, as in a dream.
Similarly strangled consciousness hangs on the recognisable detail of eyes in Burrells Deflated drowning under the floor of the gallery not unlike a ship hitting an iceberg.
Yet – the terror of such a demise is not there – the object assures me that it will not disappear. That paradox has a cutting edge – it demands visual thinking to become more like Dante’s alta fantasia. A sprawling narrative mixed with photo- realism just this side of a nightmare.
The five inkjet prints (all 2016, 67 x 92 cm) share a kind of assault on decorum of normal behaviour.
In a landscape format, in a shallow space defined in art history as not comforting (think of Deposition by Rogier van der Weyden), the female body is wounded, disabled and deformed by the act of casual sex. Yet it is not a morality tale. It is a tale of transformation, cause of which is not visually defined. Reminiscent of Yorgos Lanthimos distopian Lobster it presents a world in which a person may be turned into something else. This image is aggressively literal mismatch of cruelty and humour – deliberate mix of realism and “fantasia”. It is not a sprawling narrative, tender conglomeration of emotions fits its impact better. She brings to public life intimacy in an absurd constellation of fragmented real. She ties the new constellation with reality while removing it from the real world. Not once does she balk. I am left not to understand the rules of its “real” of its “world” – however, I cannot shake off induced curiosity. With a straight face -as if – Burrell delivers absurd constellations, their surreal absurdity sticking with me. And no – it is not trying to be popular.
The above wall mounted variant of Scrunch holds a portrait as if unearthed in some other Pompeii and Herculaneum. Free of all responsibility for my perception Burrell peregrinates conceptual art already aware what of it had gone extinct.
A bizzar loner, each of her objects carries authority of earthly reality of being. Believable, they are visualised emotions, some born out between need and want. Like gluttony.
Where Arcimboldo used vegetable- Burrel prefers consumer goods.
We see her experiencing -not knowing what exactly – like experiencing something when making performance art. The meaning reminiscent of a butterfly moves from one source to another: fear, pity, hesitation, remorse, curiosity, bewilderment? She allows conceptual art to turn visual, even retinal.
“None of these artworks are really for passive contemplation,” said Andrew Wilson, curator of British contemporary art and archives at Tate, who put together the current show of conceptual art. “They’re not pleasant arrangements of shapes and colors on a canvas. They are provocations, some of them: provocations to actually thinking what art might be.”
Burrell is decisive- by binding the freedom of arrangement with visual aesthetics of both mimesis and catharsis. Another conceptual artist Ryan Gander insists:
“It’s about learning,discovery, investigation, turning over rocks and seeing what’s under them.”Conceptual art emerged in the United States, Europe and Latin America in the 1960s. “The idea itself, even if it is not made visual, is as much of a work of art as any finished product,” the early conceptualist Sol Le Witt wrote in a 1967 essay.
This exhibition has a root in each conceptual art, performance art, lens based art, abstraction achieving departure from exclusiveness of any of them.
Burrell makes thinking, feeling, making visible, at the stage when each (or all together) seeks escape to timelessness.