Camilla Low: Straight Letters
DCA, Dundee, until Sun 30 Mar
Despite receiving her education at Glasgow School of Art, this is the first major solo exhibition in the UK by Norwegian sculptor Camilla Low. With this in mind it’s fortunate that a venue the size of the DCA is hosting it, because her boldly-coloured sculptures work perfectly in this open space, with the gallery’s sun blinds open to allow extensive natural light into the room.
The colour, shape and the precise fabrication of Low’s works are integral to their finished effect, which allows for both formal consideration and aesthetic appreciation. Low’s chosen base materials are concrete, wood and metal, the former hewn into identically-sized squares of a few inches each in the onsite workshops. These are piled four or five high, and selected surfaces are painted yellow or black, obscuring our view of the material involved. From a distance these oversized Rubik’s Cube segments might be flimsy, fragile plastic.
With segments of wood sliced into pieces, separately painted and pieced back together (‘4+4’ and ‘Annalisa’), this sense that hard and functional ingredients can be softened by swathing them in bright colours is accentuated. That each piece here is also devised as an interesting kind of visual puzle simply adds to the entertainment value of viewing them. Among some of the more striking examples of this technique are ‘Ramona’, a series of black-painted metal squares hung from floor to ceiling and linked at their corners by plastic hooks, and ‘Sister’, a series of caramel-coloured perspex triangles with one end of a metal bar threaded through their centre. Each of these is balanced in state with a lightness which belies their physical properties.
Yet, it’s the least obtrusive work which most succinctly illustrates the purpose of the show. ‘White Steel’, a square sheet of metal painted the same white as the wall behind it, reveals this to be an exercise in camouflaging the very physical nature of objects using formal trickery of colour, light and balance, and a very successful one at that.