Neil Clements: Built. Lacking (3 stars)

Neil Clements: Built. Lacking

Formerly lauded for his painterly investigations into modernism and death metal, Glasgow-based artist Neil Clements evinces traces of a finely distilled practice. Gone are the guitars and idols; only Clements’ interest in formalist art production remains. And, while the artist’s use of analogue technologies – large format Polaroids and slide dissolve units – signals a shift in technique, the resulting body of work continues to address painterly concerns.

Four works posit an oil painting of a simple geometric shape next to a duplicating neon sign. One is authoritative and light-emitting, the other a curious, absorbing canvas; the comparison is seemingly academic, a suspicion strengthened by Clements’ reference to postmodernist heavy-weight Jean-François Lyotard in the accompanying literature. The work of American abstract expressionist Ad Reinhardt is a further point of reference. ‘Moat’, a sculptural slice of white marble flooring, and Polaroid ‘Bottomless Doubt’ nod to the late painter. Clements’ art historical posturing is playful, however, initiating a circuitous consideration of paint, which only ever delivers the viewer to the point from which they began: its dull futility in the face of glaring neon. While obscured by texts, techniques and processes, the materials’ legacy is the affecting stuff here. Hence, the viewer does the legwork.

Admittedly obtuse and a slow-burner, Built. Lacking’s bewildering effect should not be overlooked.

Doggerfisher, Edinburgh, until Sat 6 Jun

Neil Clements: Built. Lacking.

  • 3 stars

Clements finely distilled practice evinces a continued interest in painterly concerns and formalist art production. Bewildering, yet rewarding selection of sculptural and wall-based works.

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