Melancholia & Concept. Kathy Barber & Diane Scott.
O Rex. 7-25 May.
Recently I’ve been considering if openings are really the best time to come and see a show. The art is becomes less of the main feature and the star of the show really is the different kinds of free alcohol provided to accompany your experience. I don’t know who curated the show but I was drawn into the plywood shelves, the coffee brown chair and coffee table set, and the rug that complemented them – it is very problematic when the focus is meant to be on the work of two talented artists, but all I am concerned with are drinks and the well crafted designer furniture.
Melancholia is the work of Kathy Barber, situated left of the gallery and Concept , on the right, features the work of Diane Scott. Without reading much about the actual meanings behind the work, I feel that this is the strangest combination of artists.
While both are painters, Melancholia is on a completely different note. Was Kathy Barber watching Lars Von Trier’s Melancholia when she made her paintings? Is it about the depth and despair of depression or something? I’m always very hesitant about art that claims to be about melancholy just by being black, grey or blurry. Immediately I just thought of the kind of art that you see on the deviantART website – very emotive strokes, with a kind of hidden narrative, entangled with design yet somewhat cringey. However, there is obviously a market for this (maybe art in quirky offices?) and O-Rex is a dealer gallery so if it is all about creating sales then perhaps that in fact, it will do.
Diane Scott’s Concept however I find suitably, umm, conceptual. Scott’s history is in painting, yet she plays with this tension between object and painting. The work of Concept is particularly strong – meaning I believe her line of enquiry to be more convincing – there is obviously a concept at play here. The two bold large paintings/objects are made of intricate scratches to metal combined with the details of line and form within the composition of the painting/object which further re-iterates from within this tension between painting and object. Although the palette is somewhat restrained, I felt the number of paintings and the different varieties of style and so forth in each painting was very jarring.
The faults of the show lay in the curation of the show. Concept was very cluttered, looking more like a space issue than a zany presentation – if it was going for a bit of personality, it still could have been given more space – although concept features many small works it doesn’t do them justice to layer them randomly across a wall. Perhaps more thought given to supporting the tension of concept. Barber got sufficient area to display yet something was also disappointing in that layout. If it was about melancholy, something was strangely cheerful about the area the works were allocated to. Again, if the main concern was selling paintings, that is one thing, but giving works enough breathing space to even be considered seriously is another.