Mary Mary is pleased to present ‘Construct,’ a four person show including works by Barbara Kasten, Alan Michael, Daniel Sinsel and Ricky Swallow. The show seeks to highlight ideas of construction and reproduction within each of the artists’ practices and brings together a group of artists whose work has concerns with re-making, re-ordering and transformation.
The exhibition looks to elements of sculptural collage, objects which are manipulated or re-made, aswell as photographic representation and photorealism in painting. Within all the mediums found here; sculpture, photography and painting, the final work is arrived at, it seems from a series of alterations and manipulations as a way to generate images.
In the work of Barbara Kasten (b.1936), this is highlighted in the construction and bringing together of intricate sculptural installations. These works belong to the ‘Construct Series’ created in the late 1970s and early 1980s, which saw Kasten build abstract installations made of mirrors, coloured lights and metal sheets. These are then photographed, with the final images depicting a sort of ‘stage,’ which is always abstract and non-narrative, dealing with features of light and shadow. In these expansive installations and abstract images, Kasten focuses on a cross-disciplinary approach, dealing with sculpture, painting, photography and installation concurrently.
For Alan Michael (b. 1967) the act of displaying reference material is made the focus of his work alongside investigating the rituals associated with this. Michael has employed the techniques of alteration often in his practice with the original photograph or image subject to repetition, reflection or realised in differing and often conflicting stylistic choices, whilst differing sources and narratives collide and contradict each other.
The original sources in the paintings go through a variety of associations and conversions, for example the work Mood 3, presents a close-up of a badge, which has its origins in an invitation to contribute to a fanzine dedicated to the band Felt. Michael produced a photograph which featured a badge he designed, with this painting, being an extreme close-up of that badge. Mood 10 shows a close-up of a plant, which began as a photograph, taken to quote the design of a cartoon-like tropical plant motif found on a towel. As throughout Michael’s practice these works source material that allows Michael to demonstrate development and distortion, using repetition of similar objects, texts and images.
Daniel Sinsel’s (b. 1976) intricately detailed works illustrate a foundation in art history and an interest in the nature of painting and sculpture, and the particular qualities and meanings of the materials he uses. Plaster, silk, oil on canvas, and a variety of woods are employed as the basis for representation, as they are woven, cut, or sewn to be reconfigured in Sinsel’s use of trompe l’oeil and illusory perspective.
In the same instance, by slicing paper or carving lime wood (as is the case with the works here), Sinsel endows his media with additional resonances: they become tactile and of uncertain rigidity; and simultaneously suggest supports for the painted image and explicit materials in their own right. In Sinsel’s work they have dual, if not numerous, functions and abilities.
In the work of Ricky Swallow (b. 1974) the focus on transformation and construction is also ever present. In these most recent works, Swallow has looked to a series of commonplace objects; cups, a clock, pots and a pipe for example and translates them into intricately observed forms. Realised from manipulating standard cardboard tubes and casting them in bronze, Swallow creates a permanent and solid object, which in many ways is more personal and intimate than the original ‘working’ objects they represent. Whilst there are references to Utilitarianism, Modernist design and Native American Art amongst others, there are personal references here too, with the work looking to alteration and materiality as its focus.