STUART CALVIN, The Earthly and the Uncharted, 25 Jan – 24 Feb 2018, Ulster University Art Gallery, Belfast

David Haughey  accompanied the installation with a breathtakingly beautiful essay extracting deep understanding of human condition from materials and hues while mapping the roots in ancient philosophy.  Applied to current EU strategies with migrating people it dips this art near James Turrell’s claim “[My art] is about your seeing, like wordless thought that comes from looking into fire”.  Not a whimsical link – Calvin’s use of light and space shares the mind expanding force noted in Turrell’s installations.

Event Horizon, 2017

To think of a mythic form as a catalyst toward “clarity” and even  action  is not that new as to be doubted.  Mark Rothko explored so called “mythomorphic abstraction” in paintings, so comparison with installation may feel out of order, until the nonverbal thought admits not source but impact.  In both Rotho’s and Calvin’s art the impact is unequivocal.

Mark Rothko, No 61, Rust and Blue

Muriel Spark “Art is an art of daring”  comes to my mind  while seeing Calvin’s installation,  while connecting uncrossable space of the oval of wax that appears black from the entrance and golden from the back wall.

Within the underside, Wax ,Dye and Gold Leaf, 2018



The sculpture favours Brancusi’s preference for absent plinth


The scars on the “gold” are not immediately visible, and as if holding their breath, they appear from some viewing angles.  On the far wall is a framed print  holding its secrets even tighter, but issuing impact from afar.

The crossing, Digital print, 25 x 38 cm, 2018

Can I be sure that “my meaning” is “its meaning”? No.  But I appreciate both  its confidence that the blue will not drown in the dark,  and my freedom to trespass with my imagination.  Calvin made a space for it. With a blithe indiference to my feeling this exhibit is both finished and unfinished.  Like any poem.   Its tomorrow is negotiable, it is adaptable to change of light and to the viewing by another.  Its consolatory dark smooth plane hides a proleptic invocation of a disabled object. And silence.

I hasten to add, that I do not intend to crucify  the installation’s emerging power  as I move in the space, to any one particular view.  The  blue top of the wax crucible indulges in being both  flat and of  immense depth, a hermeneutic snare to avoid certainty.  Is something else going to happen?  Yes – reflections play poker with angles and light.

Calvin never disappoints, if all you expect is  the force of mute poetry  without an end.

(The  images are not capable to approximate the aesthetic experience of  being there)




About Slavka Sverakova

writer on art
This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.