Rob Parry

Material Evidence – A Review

Material Evidence, the Melissa Gordon exhibition currently showing in the Bluecoat, originally showed alongside Fallible Spaces, another exhibition of her work which ended in January, and like Fallible Spaces plays with ideas of space and how her art inhabits it.

Whilst Fallible Spaces did this through an attempt at staging Mina Loy’s supposedly unstageable 1916 play Collision (which I’m gutted to have missed – the play calls for `fifty nine windows at irregular heights`, a moving floor `worked by propellers` and a perpetually falling curtain, and it would have been fascinating seeing how Gordon pulled it off), Material Evidence is slightly less ambitious. Gordon works off of “accidental images” made by the by-products of her painting, taking things like the layers of dried paint in a pallet or the smears of colour left on a wall and reproducing them on canvas. The paintings become gradually more unmoored as you move around the room, from solid blocks of colour to scattered flecks of paint against white. As you near the end the canvases begin to bulge and contract, scattering the colours and distorting the increasingly chaotic designs into new patterns. It’s an interesting effect, and although there’s only a small room’s worth of paintings it gives you a lot to take in.

Judging from the size of the exhibition it’s meant more as a companion to her other art than a major work in its own right, but its brevity works in its favour – it may have been difficult to sustain it as a full-on show, but as it stands Material Evidence works both as a look into how Gordon paints and an experiment with how both these paintings and the paintings that they grew out of interact with the physical space around them.

Material Evidence is showing at the Bluecoat until March 13th.

Picture credit to thebluecoat.org.uk.

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