The exhibition Bad Actors takes its cue from Pirandello’s play Six Characters in Search of an Author. The play
begins with the curtains raised and actors rehearsing a performance of Pirandello’s Mixing It Up. Part-way through the rehearsals six mysterious characters arrive and claim they have a story that needs finishing. What follows calls into question the nature of reality, artifice and authenticity.
The paintings are displayed in an informal hang; some propped, others wedged into place, some hung from the vertical columns that define the KARST gallery space. The works are ambitious in scale and either share or exceed the proportions of the human body, asserting a disquieting physical presence in the gallery. Freed from the traditional wall hang, the work’s complete construction is laid bare; the front, edges and back are exposed. This method of display allows for a more intimate and scrutinous viewing experience for the audience, akin to encountering the works in the studio. The theatre director and playwright Bertolt Brecht famously employed alienation techniques such as revealing the workings of the theatre (the lights, characters off-stage, the breaking of the fourth wall) so his audience were made to question what they were seeing rather than being willingly seduced by it’s illusion of reality.
All the materials (support, surface, medium) and accumulation of marks are an evidence of the work’s coming into being – its personal experience, constructed over time – and betray the human activity involved in that process. This evidence is concrete yet paradoxically exists alongside something more mercurial and evasive: the pictorial space and the visual associations created on the painted surface. This is the work’s character; a living, illusory interaction played out between viewer and art work.
Lastly there is the interaction of these ethereal yet tangibly corporeal bodies upon one another within the gallery. Each work mutters, mumbles and howls a private monologue. In combination these utterances become dialogues which connect across the space. This begins conversations, debates and arguments as individual
tales intertwine to create a constantly shifting story.