LIAM GILLICK – ‘LI­A­BIL­ITY CHAN­NELLED’

With his brightly coloured alu­minium beams, the artist is im­plic­itly fram­ing a cri­tique of the cul­tural logic of late cap­i­tal­ism. Still, the colours are nice

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - THE TAKE - AIDANDUNNE

Whatisit?

Li­a­bil­ity Chan­nelled is a wall-mounted sculp­tural work by Liam Gillick.

Howw­a­sit­done?

Gillick has long used “sec­ondary forms” in his ab­stract works. That is, the com­po­nent ma­te­ri­als that “sup­port or dis­guise ar­chi­tec­tural struc­tures” – es­pe­cially, one feels, con­spic­u­ously op­u­lent new ar­chi­tec­ture. In­dus­trial el­e­ments are ar­ranged ac­cord­ing to his de­signs. Not sur­pris­ingly, he has de­signed and lo­cated ex­am­ples of such works in ar­chi­tec­tural set­tings, where they are ef­fec­tively both art and de­sign at the same time. Here, bolted alu­minium beams are pow­der-coated in bright colours – pri­maries, black and green – and ar­ranged in a geo­met­ric pat­tern. The process is in­dus­trial, the aes­thetic is play­ful, though the artist might – and in­deed does – ar­gue that in so fore­ground­ing the func­tional com­po­nents and pro­cesses, he is im­plic­itly fram­ing a cri­tique of, to bor­row a phrase from Fredric Jame­son, the cul­tural logic of late cap­i­tal­ism. Still, the colours are nice.

Where can I see it?

It is in­cluded in Gillick’s ex­hi­bi­tion A De­picted Horse is Not a Cri­tique of a Horse at the Ker­lin Gallery (Anne’s Lane, Dublin) un­til Jan­uary 19th. ker­lin­gallery.com.

Is it a typ­i­cal work by the artist?

A tricky ques­tion in re­la­tion to Gillick, who is fa­mously un­pre­dictable, but it is ac­tu­ally typ­i­cal, while al­low­ing that it is but one strand among the many and var­ied that com­prise his oeu­vre.

Gillick was born in Ayles­bury, Eng­land and is now based in New York. He stud­ied at Gold­smiths and was one of the first crop of YBAs, though he did not take part in Damien Hirst’s trend-set­ting 1988 ex­hi­bi­tion Freeze, which put the group on the map. That is per­haps ap­pro­pri­ate given that Gillick is more com­monly as­so­ci­ated with re­la­tional aes­thet­ics, or re­la­tional art. He was in­cluded in Ni­co­las Bour­ri­aud’s 1996 ex­hi­bi­tion Traf­fic, which in­tro­duced the term. Bour­ri­aud’s propo­si­tion is that art piv­ots on ex­pe­ri­enced en­coun­ters be­tween all those in­volved, not on the evo­ca­tion of his­to­ries or the­o­ries out­side of the com­mu­nal event. Among artists as­so­ci­ated with the term, there has been a trend to­wards a looser, less pre­scrip­tive def­i­ni­tion, while re­main­ing close to the cen­tral idea.

Gillick draws on a be­wil­der­ing range of sources and ref­er­ences, but has a con­sis­tent un­der­ly­ing in­ter­est in cul­tural pro­duc­tion in its widest sense (and how the cat­e­gory of artist, and he, fits into the pic­ture). His Ker­lin show jux­ta­poses a se­ries of ab­stract alu­minium pieces, dubbed “chan­nel works”, to­gether with a set of en­larged me­dieval wood­cuts bear­ing anachro­nis­tic ad­di­tions in the form of cap­tions and im­ages, com­ment­ing on modes of pro­duc­tion. A monk in a scrip­to­rium an­tic­i­pates the pro­duc­tion line of the fu­ture with the ex­cla­ma­tion “Volvo!” Sim­i­larly, a wine­maker in a cel­lar holds a cup aloft and thinks “Fiat Strada!” St Se­bas­tian, rid­dled with ar­rows and other mis­siles, muses on “Re­turn on cap­i­tal em­ployed…” A knight on horse­back imag­ines an ab­stract geo­met­ric com­po­si­tion. Gillick has noted the “play be­tween ac­tiv­ity and anal­y­sis” in his work, and this lively, con­ver­sa­tional play, even charm, re­flects his ar­tic­u­late, lo­qua­cious per­son­al­ity.

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