Where to begin? Often when I write these things this is the question I deal with. For example for a few weeks I’ve seen the title of this exhibition pop up on social networks and every time it does, I in a fashion that borders on autistic I complete it my signing in my head ‘Everybody Happy Nowadays’.
Is this relevant? Is the title a code about the exhibition, something that indicates what the works involved deal with contemporary expectations of that illusory aspect we call happiness. I think I may have steered myself in the wrong directions as standing outside the white door I read the info which references Balzac and the ‘profound emotion’ to be encountered by a viewer and art.
After the chimes die away and the door is opened and I virtually fall in blackness. What is it lately with galleries and blackness? I seem to spending time in galleries staggering around in blackness or I’m I getting old? The only thing that has the change to compete with the darkness is a triptych of carefully rotating paint cans. Equally in another room there turns in elegant orbits a china tea cup.
These are films created by Roderick Maclachlan, they are graceful films that offer an illusion which is illusory. They point to something I haven’t thought about, how the mechanics of projection, of cinema pull us all into a shared hallucination where the only thing that feels ‘solid’ is your experience. Of course the overriding thought in my head as I inhabit the space is the opening titles of the ITV schools programme Picture Box.
Moving into a new space, moving from the dark in the near blinding summer light. Slightly confused I begin to realise that I am surrounded by a number of fair, delicate paintings by Kaye Donachie. My initial reaction is to think about paintings found in charity shops. Or rather the sensations attached to those paintings, a melancholic sense of fading beauty. That all the cultural meaning and passion that these paintings and there subject matter where once invested with is now leeching out. The paintings seem to have captured a sense of entropy.
In comparison David Osabldeston’s models, despite being fragile enough to be placed under protective glass boxes, they appear heavy and solid. There models of building I don’t quite recognise, they seem to be constructed from something else, as in the material used to construct them leads to a counter-narrative. Basically, to coin a phrase, there’s more than meets the eye with these pieces.
As seems to be the case in many exhibitions the further away you are from it the more you invest, or think about it. I begin to think about the conceptual underpinnings about the desire to explore the desire to create a masterpiece or if there is still an idea of a masterpiece. Well the latter is difficult as we exist in a relative artistic universe where the viewer’s experience of a piece is central. What there is in this exhibition in regards to the romantic notion of a masterpiece appears to be an inherent need of artists to create something of emotional resonance.
I don’t know if I’m clearer about what constitutes a masterpiece in the wacky world of contemporary art. What I could be clear about that the works in this exhibition do share the spectral, ethereal or emotional charge that you might expect in the presence of a masterpiece.