John Hurrell – 26 March, 2014
'Fathoms', the title is clever, suggesting spatial (underwater) depth, while alluding to mental cogitations. Frater’s brass mermaid could also be a female swimmer being devoured by a giant minnow, while Kennedy’s three planar explorations (they depict reflective walls intersecting in a corner) collectively provide a dark, immersive, confined, tanklike ambience.
Richard Frater and Andrew Kennedy
18 March - 5 April 2014
In this modest show in a comparatively intimate space next door to the office, a selection from two artists is curated by Ben Clement. Four small items total: three graphic works (pigment digital prints) from Andrew Kennedy on the walls; Richard Frater‘s fishing lure sculpture suspended from the ceiling.
Fathoms, the title is clever, suggesting spatial (underwater) depth, while alluding to mental cogitations. Frater’s brass mermaid could also be a female swimmer being devoured by a giant minnow, while Kennedy’s three planar explorations (they depict reflective walls intersecting in a corner) collectively provide a dark, immersive, confined, tanklike ambience.
All together, the four works make an intriguing installation, what you could consider a fifth work. (That would make it ‘Full Fanthom Five.’) Is Frater’s lure a comment on sexual desire? What is the bait and what is the prey? Is the glowing bare breasted woman (big hair, small head) an erotic enticement for other humans, or food source for other denizens of the sea?
So here’s a peculiar thought…perhaps the so-called ‘siren’ with hooks is the victim and not the decoy or its exploiter? The voracious piscine that has grabbed her, leaving her arms uplifted like a flamenco dancer, is hanging in a bouquet of loose barbs. She has been actively sought out and pursued - not slyly enticed to her doom.
This enigmatic muddling of active with passive is what makes this Frater work compelling - the blending and pulling apart of ostensible opposites. It has affinities with the work, Ann (2012), that Frater contributed to the ACFA show that Peter Shand curated for The Gus Fisher a couple of years ago. That similarly paradoxical sculpture was a thick nail with its head sliced off at an angle and repositioned using a slender needle. The work punned on the notion of nail/needle head, as well as body - for the wall itself teased about the implication that the rest of the sturdy nail was buried within.
However for the technically knowledgeable, such a case was unlikely. For the installation to succeed without damaging the sculpture, a much thinner nail was probably welded on to the thicker section, and then inserted into a drilled hole with rawl plug. As with the lure, there are contradictory readings about how you interpret what you are looking at. These generate a sifting through and an evaluation of collected details in order to find a probable semantic structure, a feasible and memorable narrative that the artist is throwing into your lap. Mind your fingers.
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