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Heartache & Longing at White Conduit Projects

March 3, 2017

ArtsMixed Media | by Harry Seymour


With a title as broad as ‘I Really Miss You Until You’re Here’ from White Conduit Projects’ latest exhibition, it is easy to be intrigued about what might be included in the show, and what themes the artists, and indeed curator, might be addressing. As a group exhibition, the similarities require some thought, and although at times the narrative seems complex, interestingly this is very much indicative of the ideas surrounding the complexity of human relationships. That this is a mixed-media show also conveys a similar sense of chaos.

Sally Kindberg, Cody, oil on linen, 50×45 cm. White Conduit Projects.

Pleasingly, large-scale sculptural works do not overshadow paintings in the show, as each piece provides a different angle on the self-acknowledged ambiguous theme. Emma Cousin’s painting ‘Hybrid’ is a brilliantly complicated start to the show, as its strong and varied yet complementary palette presents a collage-style composition with elements and angles from identifiable objects and characters. In the context of the exhibition, we find Cousin playing with ideas of vulnerability and questioning one’s sense of self and autonomy once entered into a relationship. Elements of human, animalistic and inanimate features overwhelm the canvas, and the viewer is left wondering about what kind of ‘hybrid’ we are.

Sculpture in the show also reflects this chaos which the space refuses to neutralise. Poppy Whatmore’s ‘The Moment You Make Me Melt You Disappear’ subverts the comforting banality of a domestic wooden chair by dismantling it and fixing it in a violently disfigured pose on the gallery wall. The fact that the object has been ripped apart and re-aligned once again highlights both the damaging effect of many human relationships and lack thereof, whether this is emotional, psychological or physical. In its implicit nature as opposed to a brutal revelation, the piece places the home as the centre of the exhibition, to which all the other artworks eventually all adhere.

Emma Cousin, Hybrid,oil on canvas, 100 x120 cm. White Conduit Projects.

The intimate, small space of White Conduit Projects makes the show seem all the more ambitious; many curators would select a single medium and then artists accordingly, yet Sarah Pager and Yuki Miyake have utilised the space excellently. As visually stimulating as the sculptural works are, it is the paintings which possess a real poignant power and through which the incongruous thematic ideas are sewn together most effectively. Rebecca Byrne’s ‘Acid Sun’ and ‘A Room for Bluebird’ are placed in the corner of the room within touching distance. As each title suggests, the palette for the respective paintings are a warm yellow and a calming blue. Despite the chromatic warmth, Byrne’s spaces are eerie in their emptiness, especially given the domestic context, as they are featureless bedrooms, or living spaces. As these are usually places of platonic and familial joy and unity, the static canvases highlight the architectural symbolism in relationships and their fractures.

For this incidentally all-female exhibition, we are invited to explore the ways in which humans experience life through each other. Interestingly, White Conduit Projects’ press release states that this is “at times using elements from the material world or anthropomorphising objects at hand”. At a time where technology, internet and devices are indispensable and integral to the human condition, the idea of an ‘anthropomorphised object’, or even a body de-humanised by technology, is truly fascinating, and we leave the gallery thinking intently about how technology has influenced relationships in the twenty-first century.

By Issey Scott

I Really Miss You Until You’re Here at White Conduit Projects, until 12 March, 1 White Conduit St, London N1 9EL.