The work is serious
Alexander Kennedy strays from the beaten track and discovers some hidden cultural gems at Glasgow’s studio warehouse
Away from the fallow field of Glasgow’s King Street, Mutley at the Warehouse Studios has turned the previous guerrilla home of Comme des Garçons into a gallery – an irregular space at the bottom of a crooked alley that is showcasing an impressive but loose group of recently graduated art school students. The work on show includes photography, drawing, sculpture and painting, all expertly installed in the post-industrial space. Colour is kept to a minimum (later exhibitions with graffiti artists will more than make up for it), so the work on show at first seems cool and only superficially serious. On closer examination, this prejudice is thwarted. The work is serious – and most of it is seriously good.
Gyl Rae’s sculptures use concealed colour to great effect – warm, soft pastel tones glow from behind the long rectilinear forms that lean against the wall, colouring the surface with pink, yellow and blue clouds. The shapes deconstruct Flavin’s ‘Monument for V Tatlin’, but Rae’s use of light pulls the plug on his bombast and theoretically kicks over Serra’s hulking one ton prop pieces. The photographs by Rebekka Unrau on the facing wall also subtly and humorously reference big names in art history. Hokusai’s wave is reduced to the corner of a kicked up carpet, with crumpled paper acting as the crest of the breaking wave. Another photograph in her ‘Innerspace (Bedroom)’ series, a tower of books, holds up the eaves of a house. Words are used to support ideas, forms, or is it the other way about?
The master of hermetic modernism also makes his presence felt in the work of Julie-Ann Delaney. Her tiles, sketches and wall drawings spread out from one of the corners of the gallery – a nod to Malevich’s installation at the ‘Tramway 0-10’ exhibition of 1913 – and fill it with her version of Suprematism. A version of Malevich’s ‘Black Square’ is present in the krasnyi ugol (the ‘Holy Corner’) as the new geometric face of a dead modernist god. More regularised forms can be found in the work of Martin Nelson, in his perfectly constructed wooden homage to Gottfried Leibniz. The floor around his sculptures has been turned into a blueprint, with a puddle of electric blue powdered paint used as the ground for the forms to rise up from. A more restrained use of colour can be found in Ross Hamilton Frew’s ‘Boredom Patterns 1-3’. Frew removes the signifying potential of Cy Twombly’s forms, turning his line into dashes and swirls that escape the early hand-painted pop trajectory of Twombly’s canvases. The three paintings rest on the ground, emphasising their ‘objectness’, and invoke the crayon and coloured pencil forays into mark making that one finds on the walls of children’s bedrooms.
Glasgow is very quiet during the month of August. As attention shifts to Edinburgh’s Art Festival, gallerists freshly returned from the ‘hard sell’ at mainland Europe’s festivals take a deep breath before pushing on into the autumn. In the middle of this hiatus, the occasional artist-run space, such as this, produces some unassuming but great work.
Now I Know my ABCs, Studio Warehouse, Glasgow, until Fri 3 Aug