Anthea Hamilton and Thomas Kratz
Mary Mary, Glasgow, until 26 Jan
INSTALLED PAINTINGS AND SCULPTURES
There is a history of sexed-up artistic collaborations in 20th century art, a long line of cosy twosomes that come together for occasional aesthetic satisfaction. The work on show by Anthea Hamilton, with Thomas Kratz playing the supportive role, invokes something of the early collaborations between Johns and Rauschenberg, when they lived and worked together in the 50s. There is a similar approach to assemblage and abstraction, a critique of the painterly surface and the monumentality of sculpture.
Hamilton and Kratz take erotic Polaroids by the Italian designer Carlo Mollino as their starting point, images in which he photographed prostitutes and placed his own designed objects about the ‘models’. There are simple enough themes of consumerism, objectification and desire at work here, but Hamilton and Kratz expand them and manage to emphasise and flatten the power of the original and use it to create fairly conventional art objects.
The resulting collaboration and reinterpretation manages to hold together very well, and is at its best when Kratz’ paintings act as backdrops, staging Hamilton’s sculptures. The ‘Pulley’ (Hamilton) and ‘Sun and Moon’ (Kratz) collaboration is such a ‘combine’ (to use Rauschenberg’s term), with painted legs splayed, eye-like cartoon vaginas gaping, and a cauliflower held up between two bisected torsos. There is a surreal element to much of the work that, although humorous, acts as a critique of easy Dadaist misogyny: the ‘female’ is represented as a fishy crab, the whole in a rubber tyre, table legs wearing a sharp copper skirt.