If Not Now
BROADWAY 1602 30 JUN–31 AUG, New York
The most engaging work in this group show, which debuts young Glaswegian artists in New York, is saved until last. Beyond the main gallery space at Broadway 1602, located in the public/private office of the gallery’s owner, Anke Kempes, hangs an L-shaped installation of Alex Frost’s ‘Blind Drawings (1–11)’, 2006. These are self-portrait images, varying from profiles to crucifixion-like, chin-tilted headshots. The verso digital prints have been pin-pricked to allow paint to seep through, creating ephemeral images seductive in their clean beauty. Here the relief surfaces take on a more pronounced topographic significance, serving as they do as a backdrop to Frost’s ‘Continuous Profile’, 2004, a platinum vase that echoes the artist’s profile and revolves on its pedestal too slowly for the eye to perceive the movement.
Even further from the main gallery space, Craig Mulholland’s ‘Meeting Pop’, 2005, intrudes into Kempes’ no-longer-private bedroom; its placement seems slightly prosaic; intrusion into the office area of the gallery might have provided sufficient context. ‘Meeting Pop’, an anagram of Peeping Tom, heavily references Michael Powell’s 1960 film of that name. It comprises a film mimicking scenes from Powell’s classic thriller, which is in turn watched by a digital video camera set on a tripod, trained on the monitor and screening a companion video loop—the medium becomes both perceiver and perceived. True to its title, ‘Meeting Pop’ has levity that is absent from Samuel Beckett’s thematically identical ‘Film’, 1965, based on the subjective idealist philosophy of Bishop Berkeley.
Gary Rough’s ubiquitous negativity and selfdeprecation graces the entrance to the gallery in the form of his neon sign ‘No Vacancy’, 2006, with emphasis on the ‘No’, followed by his ‘Line Drawing No 1’, 2006, and ‘Line Drawing No 7’, 2006, on lined notebook paper, which have the cheeky charm of a vernacular Agnes Martin. If Not Now also includes an installation of paintings by Charlie Hammond, drawings by Rob Churm, an installation by Henry Coombes, along with drawings and sculpture by Clare Stephenson and Sophie Macpherson.
Curated by Sorcha Dallas, the show is the product of a private curatorial exchange between Dallas and Kempes. Unlike its sister show, All dressed up with nowhere to go, at Sorcha Dallas of Glasgow in June, all of the artists in the show are represented by Dallas. The curators clearly share aesthetic sensibilities which suggests that the difference in curatorial scope is not bound by aesthetics but intention; there is a distinction of purpose between bringing artists to Glasgow and bringing artists to New York: it belies the difference between exhibiting for peers, and exhibiting for patrons. Although this debut seems just a little bit too soon for some of these artists, its timing is sassily acknowledged in the exhibition’s title; If Not Now speaks not of the desperation of age but rather the impetuousness of youth. If the title is to be taken literally, then indeed, why wait?
Victoria Miguel is a writer living in New York