At the entrance to FUZZYVIBES some severed angel wings hang above the stairs. There’s a tragedy in an angel without wings, a loss of purity and innocence where the angel becomes just a human. And like Icarus, the Greek god who flew too close to the sun and fell to his tragic ironic death, the wings perhaps point to the consequence of individual over-ambition or this case a lack thereof.
Down the stairs however reveals something entirely different. Here, only natural light floods the space and I am immediately reminded of medieval monks who sit by giant stain glass windows in low light, writing in some ancient gothic script. Perhaps there is a reason for this faint reminder. Surrounding the space is Jessie Howlit’s painted gothic text. It reads “As this circle of light surrounds their image, so shall their heart. As this fragrant incense burns with fire their love grants, as these twelve candles burn, as love is given, so it will return.” After a quick internet search I discover it is actually a spell called The Circle of Light Love Spell. It’s meant for the one you desire, to manifest a deep and passionate love. There’s something poetic in an artist utilising a gallery space to actually cast a spell, a hopeless melancholy in resorting to such an activity, although I remain optimistic the spell actually worked.
Directly below the text is Joanna Neumegen’s paintings, leaning casually against the wall, unable to be hung- for it will otherwise block the spell. One of her black paintings depicts the infamous tragedy/comedy masks, commonly associated with drama and still widely used today. Thalia the muse of comedy is represented by the laughing face and Melpomene, the muse of tragedy, is represented by the weeping face. Fittingly the masks offer a subtle gesture in reading the rest of the painting, helped by a faint outline of a curtain and dark garish black strokes. In another work, a square section of carpet pervades the floor, dressed with used cigarettes. In keeping with the sense of drama the carpet literally feels like an excavated scene, perhaps from her home or an aftermath of a party.
Around the corner lies Oliver Gilbert’s work, lit instead by electricity. It reads as another scene of a play, this time uniquely a tragedy. It’s as if I have witnessed the remainder of some murder scene. Here, the work functions as an installation comprised of parts. Perhaps the viewer is meant to create some sort of narrative, even if the narrative is not so clear-cut. Yet the work is entirely violent, from top to bottom. I admire its confidence in not refraining from such brutal formalism. The presence of death here is overwhelming to the point of an ontological disturbance, similar to the Freudian death drive in how we might feel more alive when death seems near. This is an over exaggeration, yet this idea operates in a more subtle way to the viewer, given the extreme nature of the work. We know it’s not really a true murder scene, however the symbolic cues within the work tap into our predisposition to the spectre of death.
Selena Gerzic’s work in the show could be loosely described as personal letter paintings. They read as letters to oneself, instead addressed to the viewer. In them she confesses her deepest emotions and thoughts, dealing with struggles we all no doubt pass through from time to time. It’s so clearly hyper romantic that it evades all fraudulence. Perhaps this is due the letter format itself. In it, we trust the writer, or rather the painter, to be honest. By borrowing the letter’s format, yet articulating it within the conventions of painting, there is a challenge to the notion of painting as ‘pure expression.’ It’s so obviously expressive that it almost makes a mockery, a tongue and cheek even.
At first glance I didn’t know where Matthew George Richard Ward’s work was, then someone told me his contribution is online. A website with a domain naturally titled deardade.tumblr.com reveals four scanned images of letters, addressed to the writers father. I assume that these letters have been found and we are perhaps witnessing a fragmentary correspondence. The letters, which are barely legible and perhaps written by a child of around eight, offer the reader a glimpse into the life of another. From what I gather the child’s father is in prison, his parents are split and his love endures. There’s a slight unease at reading these letters yet meshed with a voyeuristic pleasure. I cannot help but compare my own childhood with the circumstances of his.
What has anyone to worry about I cry alone is a show which aesthetically adopts the gothic, to the point of hyper romanticism. Its success is in the difference of personal expression between the artists – as cliché as that sounds. And yet I think the cliché is intentional here. The artists know exactly how excessive it is yet that’s precisely the point.