Lilah Fowler: In Time
Techno-utopian triumph, or merely decoration?
There are plenty of faddy terms to be bandied about in response to Fowler’s exhibition of sleek minimalist sculptures and wall drawings – neo-geo, retro-futuristic or techno-utopian, to name but a few. But essentially, these rather lovely works are all about the good, old-fashioned artistic concern of perspective. Sharp, angular and geometric, Fowler’s discreet forms present a muted labyrinth of optical illusion. Shifts and slips in angles give way to warps in colour, and a host of multi-dimensional mirrored surfaces toy with notions of flatness, and deliver little rest to the eye.
Once lauded for her plasticine drawings and scaffolding structures, Fowler has since refined the soft and sticky, and polished the rough, and in turn, this new body of work presents a mature selection of steel, mirror and fibre. Powdered pinks, blues and yellows fashionably clash with steely hues, and the continuous set up of floor, wall and site-specific sculptures encourages certain nostalgia for this type of smoke and mirrors illusion.
You get the feeling, however, that Fowler intends for these pieces to work harmoniously towards greater effect than mere spatial trickery. The failure to present a choreographed unity lies not in the works themselves, but in their display. These sculptures are about space – our negotiation and understanding of it – but the lofty environment they dissect is unendingly distracting. Large balconies of office space shoot off from this foyer gallery, and Fowler’s struggling works, which themselves draw great attention to their surroundings, become merely decorative in the face of it.
Corn Exchange Gallery, Edinburgh, until Thu 29 Oct