Jim Lambie: Metal Urbain
The Modern Institute, Glasgow, until Fri 4 Jun 2010
At the wave of a wand, a metal scrapheap has been transmuted into a beautiful burgeoning rose garden. Illuminated by natural light, fluorescent colours dance vibrantly against polished reflective aluminium sheeting. The scene is utopian, yet rooted in facetious chivalry: The Knighthood of the Lambic Urbain is a sexy, jazzy, neo-discothèque decorum where the edges of reality curl away like melting mercury.
Neatly displayed on concrete plinths is a series of suits of knight’s armour, crushed into compact time capsules together with other compressed items such as a cooker, steel trays, brass and copper plates, a coffee table set and belts. On the walls hang layered sheets of brightly painted metal boxes, releasing the scent of fresh glossy enamel. These gorgeously hazardous materials form a garden of sharp edges and Bittersweet Nightshades.
This is ‘full fat’ Jim Lambie colour-me-beautiful (with layered nail varnish and glossy shades of eye shadow reflecting in hand-held mirrors), and armed with titles such as ‘Beggars Banquet (All Knight Long)’, ‘Tonight’s the Knight’, ‘The Knight Shift’ and ‘Knight Light’, they suggest night-time gallantry in the asphalt jungle. It will pull you down the rabbit hole, curiouser and curiouser, emerging on the other side, like the morning after an all-night dance session, invigorated, only you are not allowed to touch the forbidden fruits of the Lambie labour.
At the back end of the gallery all the different elements come together in ‘Metal Urbain’, an amorphous cluster consisting of a dismembered knight’s armour trapped in slabs of concrete with colourful plates sprouting from every possible opening.
A meticulously designed exhibition with all the usual nods to pop, music, night-life and history, pulled together into a tight vision of pure grand-scale excessiveness.
And if you want to know the cause of this eruption, all will be revealed upstairs, where, neatly propped against the wall, you will find ‘Psychedelic Soul Stick’, a sceptre wrapped in colourful string: the relic of a bygone era responsible for this present-day force of nature.