CLOWNING AROUND:LITTLE CLOWN, MY HEART @ ARTHOUSE1

EXHIBITION 

Sandra Cisneros’s poem, which acts as both fulcrum and mission statement for this latest show at Bermondsey gallery Arthouse1, is an unabashed hymn to the absolute foolishness and, conversely, bravery of hurtling into a state of adoration; the act of falling in love, necessarily fraught with vulnerabilities and anxieties, with the mystery of not knowing how things will work out but taking a leap regardless, is the single greatest audacious undertaking of which we are capable. Each artist in the exhibition addresses the efforts and consequences of such action. Most impressive are Poppy Whatmore’s architectural door works which the longer you study them begin to manifest human dimensions, like beleaguered, not yet quite conquered, persons, refusing (despite a visceral awareness of each bend and snap and crack visited upon them) to be vanquished. They’re broken symbols (one staggers unsteadily against a wall, another has seemingly crawled into a corner, curled up defensively, the grandest occupying a lengthy bit of floor space, a collective engaged in giving what support they are able to one another-or perhaps an individual, in fragments, but tentatively holding the self together). The leap into the unknown has not worked out so well. The pieces are leant an extra charge by subverting the natural vertical philosophy of doors as passages of movement by crushing them to the floor, unable to fulfill their use. Whatnot’s Walk All Over Me, a carpet of concrete blocks of varying levels and colours, allows for a texturally unstable walk along the faultlines of desire and relationships, arousing self-awareness of constant wobbly ground. The tender, fragile harmony of Sarah Pager’s Mr. Glass, four upturned wine glasses balancing the soft weight of a slender table, is a consummate image of support. Laura Smith’s otherwise traditional still life studies are troubled by quivers of the askew (a not-quite-right reflection in Silk Flowers, a precarious angle in Two Glass Pyramids), insidious interruptions of order and formality. The colours rope and weave throughout the frame, fairly sinister in hang, like they mean harm. Nadege Meriau’s close-up photographs of foodstuffs, moist and gleaming, appear like a fearless plunge straight into the viscous heart of body fluid. Laura Cooper’s video work, Silence of the Valkyries, in which a male performer weaves and slithers along the thick contours of a female sculptural figure in Oslo’s Radhus plaza, may take on sudden troubling resonance in this new #MeToo era (although the supreme implacability and inviolability of the statue resists all exertion to compromise or exploit it). The figure remains untouchable, unreachable. Rosie Morris’s Bullfight heartbreakingly links the inexorable fate of a bull in Madrid’s Plaza de Torres de las Ventas with the unseen (but forsaken) residents of a South East London in process of demolition-the majesty of guileless beast and people at the whims of destructive push and development, wholly self-determined and possessed figures thrust in to swift and unforeseen arrangement with selfish, vainglorious partners. The visions on display run from playful to queasy to grievous to disorienting to pleasurable-the full gamut of emotional response to the complexities of the heart and its pursuits. Little Clown, My Heart continues through 18 February

http://www.arthouse1.co.uk/current.html

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