Mark Handforth (3 stars)

Mark Handforth

The Modern Institute, Glasgow, until Sat 24 Jul

A neon work hangs on the exterior of the gallery like a signpost to an underground poker venue. The piece, entitled ‘Weeping Moon’, sketches the outline of a half moon in pink and blue neon lights with tears rolling down its brick-faced cheek. This inconspicuous motif sets the stage for what is to be found inside.

Miami-based Mark Handforth has created four new big, bold sculptural pieces positioned against each of the gallery walls. Masculine in their materiality and application, the works play on the four suits in a deck of cards: ‘The Club’ is a large three cubic metre balls-of-steel sculpture; contrasting this rigid material, ‘The Spade’ is made of black felt collapsing in on itself; ‘Diamonds’ consists of a fluorescent scattering of lights and fixtures – resembling a set of cards being shuffled; and lastly, a more subtle piece called ‘Bleeding Heart’, is screen printed graffiti-style directly onto the wall, complete with pixilated marks and bleeds.

Handforth states that his intention is to allow objects to collapse, so that through their destruction they are transformed, but his sculptures are merely reinstating familiar symbols by amplifying their shapes. His objects are weighed down by this familiarity, but they lack the intrigue and playfulness that these icons represent. Instead of what was suggested by the piece on the wall outside, this turns out to be a very clinical presentation of predictable play. The works are striking at first, but they leave you feeling a little bit empty with a folded hand.

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