The Tainted: Aron Demetz and Shan Hur at Gazelli Art House

Looks like I do, after my cat had a go at me. 
Quirky Old Man

The Tainted is the new joint exhibition on show at the Gazelli Art House, in Dover Street, that just opened this past Wednesday. It features the slightly eerie sculptures of Italian artist Aron Demetz, and the slick site-specific installations by Korean artist Shan Hur.

Going in the gallery, after passing by Hur’s Knotted Pilllar (2013) – this rubbery looking curvy column that goes around itself and makes you think it’s precariously supporting the whole building, and makes you wonder in confusion “I don’t remember this column being here before…” – one gets struck by the image of three life-size wooden sculptures of the same slim woman. Their bodies are partially ravaged and scratched or spent, as if the elements have been cruel to them in different ways. The normal spots on the wood reminded me of cancerous lesions in a human body. So destructive in the flesh, but natural when in wood. What’s the difference between flesh and wood, from Nature’s point of view? Wood is Nature, Man is Nature. And as such, we get damaged, scratched, old, sick and we have other life forms living on us, of us, growing out of us, be it microbes and diseases or fungus and moss. And just like these sculptures, the way time and elements transform us depends not only on the material we’re made of, but also of where we’re standing and which way we’re facing.  Blame it on the very fine complimentary white wine available, if you want, but Aron Demetz’s sculptures surely brought up some very interesting discussions.

In the upper floor, Shan Hur’s work was more prevalent. A stainless steel board with a big slash, or crack, revealing a rocky interior made of bronze. The obvious connection to make would be that it’s like a Lucio Fontana work. The biggest difference, for me, is that instead of having a nothingness behind the cut, Hur has rocks made of bronze, or what seems to be the inside of the wall of the very building we’re in with long forgotten objects, like a tea cup or bowl, stuck in there. These installations are made specifically for the place that will exhibit them, “to create a feeling of disorientation as the viewer is led to question the work and how it relates to the surrounding space”, but me, I like to look at them as cuts and cracks that reveal the hidden treasures or stories of a time past of a specific place. What is behind these white walls? What secrets do the walls around us hide from us? Hopefully more than electric wires, plumbing and dead rats.

The Tainted opened in Gazelli Art House on the 27th of March and it’ll be on until the 5th of June.

Words by João Duarte Silva

Pictures from Gazelli Art House facebook page

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