Nick Crowe – Commemorative Glass (3 stars)

CCA, Glasgow, until Sat 31 Mar


It’s difficult to figure out what Crowe hopes to achieve by his exhibition at the CCA in Glasgow. There is no conceptual cohesion, no base (however shifting and rolling) that can be perceived to be unifying such disparate work. His sculptures and drawings on glass seem to be about general social issues, big themes such as war, vandalism, racism, injustice and technology, with glass (his material of choice) acting as the only discernible relationship between the pieces.

That said, his sculpture ‘The Campaign for Rural England’ in the gallery’s foyer is a seductive construction, a memorial to countless teenage urban romantics who see diamonds in the shattered glass stars that illuminate our grey pavements. The planar steel structure of the bus shelter has been transformed into English Oak, with sheets of fragmented glass glittering like Byzantine tessera. At a push, the metamorphosis could be said to invoke William Morris, the socio-political arguments that dogged his apparently reactionary wish for a return to ‘traditional materials’.

In the gallery 3, a large glass mobile spins slowly, with headless bodies acting as the glass ornaments. ‘The Beheaded’ is a ‘memorial to all the individuals who have been beheaded in the first five years of the 21st century’, a worthy justification for such a beautifully silly looking contraption. As the figures spin the reflections on the wall become gradually simplified, turning from recognisable human forms into figures, little number and letters: ‘1’ and ‘I’. Details are compiled and abstracted, but the horror of the Real remains.

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