Phillip Lai

20 Nov 2009 – 20 Dec 2009

Stuart Shave / Modern Art

London, United Kingdom


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Stuart Shave/Modern Art is proud to present an exhibition of new work by Phillip Lai, his third solo show with Modern Art. Phillip Lai has created an exhibition of wide sculptural approaches, altogether composed of analogies and associations: sometimes formal, sometimes of context, sometimes of experience. From anecdotal and private moments of discovery in the day-to-day world, Lai generates and organises sets of ideas. These coalesce into particular forms and identify themselves with certain objects. Mentally or psychologically essentialising an idea's form, he works to reconstitute it by making and assembling his materials from the ground up. Rather than a paring back of found form, Lai's is a building up of bare and base material to a point where some thing, or some situation, is proposed scenically. He exaggerates something simple, and puts it forward as a whole world: a scenic beginning point, on the cusp of a slight fiction. Throughout Lai's show at Modern Art is a motif of transiently inhabited space. Things are remade by the artist in his ongoing attention to human aspects of exchange and utility: the outline of a shop, the interior of a van, a domestic stairwell, a pair of trousers, for example. The presence and role of a socialised human body is suggested through Lai's essential reconstitutions of spaces which operate as facilities for glamourless manual action. His sculptures notionally reconstruct situations, celebrating and debasing an ideal form in order to communicate it. The diversity of sculptural approach is lent from a range of materials which may seem unexpected, but which nevertheless remain appropriate to the forms they describe. The bare description of Lai's shop, for instance, is rendered spatially with lengths of commercially available aluminium sections, supported on a meagre foundation of fruit stones. Another sculpture depicts wine bottles, balls, and baseball bats, crudely remade by the artist in sponge foam — redirecting their outward appearance to that of slightly comic substitutes. Distinctly not monumental, Lai's works accept that they somehow ‘live for others'. There is an absorbed mental transference or displacement of materials and properties, in order to fully comprehend or make sense of aesthetic form.


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