Cooler Warmer: Toby Christian, Richard Ducker, Emma Holden, Rory Macbeth

29 May 2009 – 27 Jun 2009

Standpoint Gallery

London, United Kingdom


Travel Information

  • Old Street / Liverpool Street

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Cooler Warmer brings together four artists for whom sculpture is a self-reflexive series of discreet queries and proposals. Each reduce the method and material of the message, like a well crafted piece of prose, to its spare and minimal best. Wry and precise, the exhibition foregrounds their economy and delicacy of handling, which encompasses both physical fragility and poised humour. Toby Christian probes into the fundamentals of art making and display. He represents objects through means and materials humorously inappropriate and exact: a lump of coal - marble covered in marker pen; a marble potato (peeled), an elastic band made of perfectly crafted plasticine. He makes interventions into gallery walls, which are sometimes small enough to be overlooked, and yet accrue onto themselves the possibility of all structural intervention. Prod is a five-finger indentation into a wet plaster wall, which in the gallery context is obviously artificial, yet conjures a moment of mischievous glee at the malleability of the institution.Intriguing and poetic, each work is an almost affectionate take on the possibilities of the sculptural object. Richard Ducker evokes uneasy narratives through his installations of found and made objects. He sets up peculiar disparities of scale between elements, which often borrow the language of the monumental by being covered with concrete, while their form remains stubbornly domestic. A series of everyday containers become a sculpturally diverse formal arrangement (Household Gods), casts of the insides of shopping bags acquire a uncomfortable density (I'm Not Unhappy Enough). In new installation Now Say After Me, Ducker pins a large, wheeled, molar-shaped object to the floor with concrete weights. Reminiscent of Lilliputian imprisonment techniques, the work circles a kind of dissolved narrative structure evocative of dream imagery. Emma Holden's work demonstrates a shifting dialogue between drawing, painting and domestic scale installation. She explores the visual logic of organic structures, employing techniques from the decorative arts and materials from the waste bin. Many have a fragile intensity, using marks made by tiny cuts or strokes built up thousands of times. At first her obsessive techniques seem to indicate a lust for perfection and order, but on closer inspection there exists an inverse reality: non-industrial production, however careful, allows for subtle imperfections and quirks. Like the deliberate flaw in the Persian carpet, Holden reveres the humility and diversity of the manmade. Ever since Rory Macbeth invented a student at Central St Martin's foundation, who, fully enrolled, existed purely in admin and rumour, and who passed the course with a portfolio gleaned at the last minute from bins, he has sought to unpick our assumptions about what surrounds us. Inspired by his constant sense of disappointment with what things claim versus what they deliver, Macbeth's practice roams across materials territories to form a faux requiem for Postmodernism. Whether translating Kafka into English without the aid of understanding German (The Wanderer), carving a forest from wood (Wood for Trees), or using an art fair stand to display only a To Let board, Macbeth focuses on the gaps and slips in the distinction between perception and reality and offers explicitly subjective translations for analysis.


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