Review: Alex Baker and Kit Poulson – House for the Future
24th November – 19th December
Schwartz Gallery, run by Ismail Erbil and Patrick Michalopoulos
Patrick was there to greet people as they came into Schwartz on Wednesday evening, advising people to spend some time in the cubes. It was good advice. Artists, Alex Baker and Kit Poulson created the two eight-foot square cubes together over the space of 12 days in the gallery space. These diagonally placed structures form the principal parts of their collaboration, currently in Schwartz main space – Schwatz having recently created a new discreet project exhibition space, happily dividing up the previously intimidatingly-large space into a more manageable and audience friendly environment.
When I walked into the first cube, perforated here and there with shards of its wood cut outwards and inwards, I was alone, with just a record player with three metallic balls the size of a small child’s fist spinning on a record-less record player - spinning around at what seems like different speeds, but in reality they are just placed at different distances from the central turning point. The effect is hypnotic and reminds me a little of a time I walked into Germaine Kruip’s exhibition, The Illuminated Void, in the Approach Gallery in February 2008. A good while ago now I suppose. Kruip’s rotating mirrors moved on different axes, twisting and turning around each other, bouncing the brilliant light coming in the windows around the empty gallery. All the while my reflection was there, and as I felt it, I began to rotate in slow sommersaults with the mirrors. Very beautiful and very soothing somehow. The sensation is not as dramatic here in Schwartz but similar and comparable in the thoughts it provokes of physics and art playing together in, at first, a raw, simplistic way and then gradually into what I realised to be a very sophisticated game.
It’s worth including the words of Poulson and Baker, who’ve been working together for 10 years “producing live works and installations that explore the edges of sound, text, objects and movement” in explaining the exhibition as a whole and its coming together.
“Building outwards to escape from our own plans, to subvert our own thoughts…We begin with two eight-foot square cubes, occupying one each. From here we explode out into the gallery space. The work becomes a conversation as our paths meet. We continue to move freely, interrupting and overwriting the actions of each other, the cubes transform into new forms.”
There are other works; “four tables, sites for performance, a mixture of fiction, strange carpentry, sonic surgery and sculptural cooking.” Two of these pieces stick in my mind. One a Russian doll table, the pyramid base crowned by the smallest table has been cut in half and attached to a halved miniature black cube. Again it’s playful. The simplicity is easy on the eye. The untreated wood gives you the feel of being in a studio, a carpenter’s studio who has bee experimenting on a non-commissioned work, and just swept away the shavings and saw dust. The other work is two pendant paintings, one by Poulson, one by Baker. Immediately you know who’s who and through them you can see who has dominated which decisions.
Both artists are abstractionists, realising a physical conversation together, exploring initially simple plans and developing them into sophisticated compositions, constantly maintaining the space for possibilities and accidents or as they say themselves, creating ‘architectural confection’.
Schwartz Gallery Project Space currently presents ‘Self help’, a new work by London-based artist David Blackmore.