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Spoonfed

February, 2011
The Extension at Vilma Gold

Daniel Barnes

Daniel Barnes is impressed by both the breadth and unity of Vilma Gold’s latest sculpture show, The Extension.

The Extension, currently on show at Vilma Gold, is a sumptuous celebration of the very materiality of sculpture. These are not sculptures that scream for attention like the undulating forms of Henry Moore or the solidity of Antony Gormley. Rather, they meld with the space and quietly converse with each other.

 At one end of the first room hangs what appears to be a mouldy sheet that serves to partition the space. Closer inspection reveals that Brian Griffiths has stained a piece of canvas with paint, hung it from the ceiling and anchored it to the ground with a large handbag filled with sand. Further On, Further Increates a partition that juxtaposes the lightness of the canvas sheet with the weighted handbag to give a sense of deliberate permanence to an erstwhile collection of materials. In the same room are Robert Pratt’s sculptures which are both heavy bronze that has been carved to resemble wood, one being a doorstop with an expertly carved dog attached and the other a mere segment of material. 

 A real treat is Alexandre de Cunha’s Quilt (raft): a line of equally sized concrete lintels placed side by side with each alternate one swaddled in a section of a blanket. It’s reminiscent of Carl Andre’s famous arrangements of bricks in the way it spans over rather than above the ground, but is somewhat more interesting in the way it combines the cold harsh concrete with a patterned cotton blanket, making it stand out both visually and as a conversation between materials. 

There are a couple of pieces that are not sculpture, narrowly construed. At the entrance hangs Talia Chetrit’s Functional Drawing. It barely protrudes in its thin frame and merges with the white wall, accentuating the hue of the silver colouring and bringing to life the slightly crumpled bubble wrap that it depicts. Also, in the first room stand two old-fashioned television sets that are placed back to back, showing Nate Boyce’s video pieces, Untitled (Orb) and Untitled (Arcs). They depict amorphous forms, bending, eclipsing, warping with a fluidity which suggests the motions of the sea or the clouds. Both of these works are sculptural in the sense that they are concerned with material form: Chetrit plays with the idea of conveying the sensual qualities of matter through depiction and Boyce investigates the organic motions of matter. 

There’s a sense of coherence about this exhibition, in which six artists explore a common theme without compromising the individuality of their work.The Extension brings to the fore the idea that sculpture, and indeed art, is merely an extension of the ordinary material world. The works convey the vitality and richness of the sensuous surfaces, the weight and density of mass, and the variations in scale that we encounter in the physical world every day. The subtlety of the work suggests it has grown from the fabric of the building, as if these artists had not so much made it, as planted it there in the gallery itself.

The Extension is at Vilma Gold until 20th February 2011.

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