= The Crawford Arts Review: Until Saturday 18 August

Friday, 3 August 2018

Until Saturday 18 August

At Sadie Coles, 62 Kingly Street W1
Urs Fischer 'soft'

The artist and their gallerist represent a productive dyad, the latter providing motivation and the former earning a regular pay cheque and reputation boost for work sold. 

One of the most important issues in this relationship is whether each can speak truth to the other. Not, as will be apparent below, in this case. My own view, of course.

The centrepiece, one of Urs Fischer's cast bronzes, is marvellous. This is 'Bless Them All!', a little whimsical perhaps with its series of little birds flexing their wings as if about to fly off. The artist has also placed, at the tip of one of the twigs, a pair of opposing leaves, a nice touch that references the living organism from which the branch originally came. 

The making of a precisely fitting mould around such a geometrically complex shape (see left), testing your mould for leaks, then pouring the liquid bronze through the funnel you've remembered to incorporate, at a temperature somewhere between 850 and 1000  has always fascinated me. This work is really beautiful and produced in a limited edition of 2 so get a wiggle on if you're a buyer.

The rest of the exhibits I'm not so sure about. These are iPhone drawings, batched up to the same 97.8 x 74.8cm dimensions and printed out on paper-covered MDF that has been coated with gesso (a white ground of plaster and binder). This luminous underpriming does much to help replicate the back lighting that so entrances us on the computer screen. Add screen-printing ink and resin-based paint, a massively expensive printer and a master printer and, hey presto, your iPhone drawings can be exhibited on the walls of posh galleries. 

Here is 'Romance'  capturing the befuddled haze of the eponymous relationship? But I rather like this: the window-like aperture, the haze of colour, the bright candle. Wander round this exhibition, however,  and you will come across . . . yet more whimsy. The gallery itself is a reclaimed industrial space, sturdy iron pillars and all, once part of the back premises of one of Regent Street's original shops. It is a most beautiful space: I sometimes wonder how any artist dares to show there. For it is unforgiving. 

Some of Fischer's works are extremely humorous – here's 'The Cavity', a ghostlike bogeyman tooth. Also shown are two black cats cavorting around on and under a white grand piano ('Loony Tunes'). This shows one of the difficulties of doing original work on such a small scale; a floating drawn line of black quavers coming from the piano and possibly the cats which, when enlarged, exhibit their frayed edges. The subject matter in the exhibition has been chosen to test not only the versimilitude of the colour rendering but also the effect of topical white on backlit white, a worthy investigation. What is demonstrated really is technique, and the rather clever use of an automated system (the printer) using conventional media (ink and paint). So although the original work on the iPhone may be called drawing (or painting which is what the artist calls his iPhone works), these are prints (also in limited editions of 2); it is up to the viewer to decide whether they are art prints

I come now to the gallerist part of the relationship. The task of filling the gallery walls (but wouldn't it be OK to leave one or two of the walls bare?) And the skill required to accomplish what every gallery needs to remain relevant as a fine art space; tight curation. One could of course present the works as trialling and experimenting with new techniques, something they do very well.

Finally, there is an overall absence of narrative, although there is a commendable effort to construct one by grouping works with related content together. I haven't yet had a look at it but here is Associate Director James Cahill introducing soft on video.

62 Kingly Street
London W!

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