Thursday, June 07, 2007

Noddy's World of Cubic Wisdom:

Slade MFA/MA private view 07

Jesus' robot ghost was that place packed. Snaking around between humpfooted old men is no way to see an art. There was so much on display in this amazing space, I went around it hard and fast. Part of me was trying to see how much I could view in as little time as possible but ultimately I found myself striving ever more frantically for something exciting and new...ay, Bernard there's the rub.
Not to say it wasn't professional, it most certainly was that, but this really was a let down. I saw only a handful of works that I really enjoyed. The overall feel was the familiar Slade playfulness and shabbiness, which is always a good start, but beyond this atmosphere there was little to get my teeth into.
So much of the work was minimalist, I must have seen a dozen works that were about painting being sculpture and vice versa, a great many of them including a single length of wood or similar jutting at an obtuse angle into the space. There were tacky colours, MDF edges and rectangles all over the shop, and I soon began to feel desperate.
The three pieces I thought showed the most originality and verve were 1. (sadly forgot the name) a room of motorised, clanging bits of timber and metal, which demonstrated a nervous intensity that I found most pleasurable; 2. Erika Nordqvists drawings, which may have been typical of her practice but were still a lot more engaging and seductive than the other work nearby; and 3. Ian Larson's (pictured) congealed heavy metal paraphernalia and shabby painting installation. This latter offering showed a true desire to play with both subject matter and audience, and to almost overload the viewer with jarring, visceral elements. There was a lot crammed into Larson's corner, and, to be frank, more ideas than in the bulk of the show altogether. It was satisfying to see an exuberant (yet also teetering and slightly uncertain) work of art by a young person, especially in amongst all of the blank, listless planks of plywood.
The more traditional painterly works were almost uniformly lacklustre, demonstrating variations on a style that felt forever fixed and destined to remain stuck in a kind of silly parody of 1990s brit art.
I also felt that the space had not been used to its fullest; I keep happening upon nooks, corners and curves which sat bare save for a few small pieces hung upon the wall around them.
Anyway, not to completely put down this show, most of the work was considered and intelligent, and well-made to boot, which is more than can be said of a lot of other degree/graduate shows. I simply felt slightly empty afterwards, and even a little depressed that this mix of students of all ages and cultural backgrounds hadn't managed to come together to make a mark and stand up proud in the dross of contemporary art and claim ownership of the present over the Hursts and the Koons' of this world. If they aren't going to do it at a place like Slade where are they?

for more info visit for erika nordqvist

and for Ian Larson.

Don't remember the name of Ol' Clanky blocks, it was a Korean name I think. good luck with that one...


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