Ruth Claxton: Postcards
- Rosalie Doubal
- 30 October 2008
Rightly celebrated for her touring large-scale installation, Lands End, Claxton's presentation of nine small postcards at the Ingleby Gallery sadly disappoints compared to that sprawling installation of delightfully kitsch figures arranged atop dazzling configurations of mirrored pedestals.
In Postcards the artist has manipulated reproductions of historical portraits with a scalpel, to create scars and decorative curls upon their surfaces. The sight lines of Janssen's figures in his 1614 'Peace and Plenty Binding the Arrows of War' have been sliced to candidly reveal two focal points which align to the 15th century painterly technique of the 'Golden Rectangle'. Similarly, with Frans Hals' 1611 'Portrait of a Man Holding a Skull', Claxton has skinned two neatly connecting loops between the eyes of the man and his deathly object, placing an ambiguous emphasis on the portrait's latent motif of immortality. These plucky pieces signify both an aggression towards and an aggrandisement towards the techniques of the original painters.
As an artist who draws in her practice primarily on notions of materiality and perception, there is much to be said for the sophisticated play with sculpture and sight exhibited here. In isolation, however, these pared down editions exhibit little reach and produce minimal effect. Claxton's tricky pictorial enigmas, at once photographic, painterly and sculptural are attractive, but ultimately belie the artist's talents.
Ingleby Gallery, Edinburgh, until Wed 19 Nov