Arthur Steward & Richard James Moat: Elsewhere
There’s a certain aesthetic similarity between the austere, monochromatic works of each artist in this joint exhibition, but their intentions appear to be the precise opposite of one another. While Moat’s pieces consider naturally created forms, they’re sleek, modernist and hint at the pre-fabricated. Steward’s sculptures, on the other hand, take ugly, functional constructions and finds a new purpose for them as structures with a certain organic beauty.
Apparently Moat had the icy polar wastes in mind while piecing together his sculptures and digital print images, in which case it’s not hard to find an ecological undertone. The former are black-painted sheets of plywood, thickly coated in parts, lightly washed in others, onto which are set white neon letters in relief, while the latter are digital approximations of the same. Each word is separated into staccato, ice-crack syllables (‘PAN-CAKE-ICE’, ‘AUR-OR-A’, ‘NUN-A-TAK’), their lights the colour of ice glare but their backgrounds unnatural and foreboding, the opposite of a whiteout in this context.
Steward, meanwhile, repurposes street furniture into new and obscure forms. His ‘Not So Bleak’ is an aluminium lamppost, forcibly coiled like a snake at its base and pointing upwards at an angle, while ‘Stasis Nil’ is a pair of ugly concrete lamppost segments fitted together into a sleekly curved almost-cube. Like ‘Standing Straight’, a bronze lamppost cover on top of which is a thin wire holding a formless lump of the metal aloft, it’s the tension in Steward’s works of post-modern reclamation that most intrigues about this show.
Corn Exchange Gallery, Edinburgh, until Thu 13 May