Torsten Lauschmann (4 stars)

Mary Mary, Glasgow, until Fri 6 Oct


There is something refreshing about an exhibition by an artist that can be read as a strong collection of differing voices and styles, avoiding the rush towards self-branding that most art workers take. Torsten Lauschmann’s new work at Mary Mary demonstrates that each art object must set its own ‘rules’, with style-as-frosting held back at all costs. It’s depressing to note how formally unified (‘samey’) work by supposed anti-formalist or neo-conceptual artists usually is. Style is everything. But when each object has its own style and stands apart from its neighbour, we are forced to turn time and time again to the thought informing each piece (and art itself) rather than letting each object act as a cog in the machine of the culture industry.

Glasgow-based Lauschamann’s exhibition comprises painting, sculpture, Polaroids, digital video projections and drawing, each piece with its own subtle agenda and light sense of humor. There is a solid conceptual framework that these disparate works fit into, but it is as tall as a philosophy, as wide as a worldview - not a gimmick or gewgaw in sight.

The untitled stuffed peacock pecking at a bag of chips demonstrates this well. The ridiculous tension between this glorious bird and its lowly choice in foodstuffs acts as a way in to the artist’s take on the world. Dualistic thought is turned on itself - the chips are painted in gold to match the bird’s supposed grandeur, so that the symbolic weight of both figures meets and falls through each other into nothingness, a capriciousness that bellies the intellectual struggle to resolve such a conundrum. In ‘Self Portrait as a Pataphysical Object’, audio adapters, cables and transformer create a chandelier with one small bulb at its center - a flickering glyph for the self. Elsewhere a figure in a piece of found film writes a letter in a crab-like yoga posture and a set of animated numbers in the form of a face tells the story of an eccentric mathematician. Effort acts as an end in itself in these works, with style as a precipitate rather than a foundation.

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