Desire, in its purest form, is not a polite nor easy creature-it courts with an insistent, greedy hand, domineering, a monopolising beast. It consumes all focus and direction, crippling perspective and perception. The principle is not even one of eventual consummation, but rather an exquisitely pleasurable and anguished elongation of chagrin (domestication would be its greatest mortification). Each artist in this show devoted to the visualisation of this most heightened state captures aspects of the excitation of the senses that are its attendants.
Vanessa Mitter’s colour studies, (Barroco, above) gripped and flustered assemblages of squalls and smudges, hint at troubled, lurid, provocative ritualistic narratives of arousal and discomposure, figures obscured in dissonant commotions of anger, dissatisfaction, helplessly embraced; Amanda Houchen’s kaleidoscopic cornucopias of whirling, frenetic shapes are fertile and fruitful templates to a thorough, willing abandonment to ecstatic disruption;
Katya Kesic’s sculptures provide a physical kick of orifices and interventions of hair (and what resembles, in one instance, an ominous, viscous slab of raw meat, Untitled, below), while her stoneware pieces scrawl cosmic epics across a vase surface, as if a skull full of fantasias has split, heaving its prodigiously spectacular contents onto the foundations;
Henrietta MacPhee’s ceramics (below), with their queasy suggestive details, rocket straight out of the merely decorative and into realms of personal reflectivity, undulating intimations of disclosure and concealment, tenderness and violence (Adoration, with its scrutiny of a pair of hands wrapping the neck of the vessel, from one angle is a possible caress, from the other a strangulation);
Neil Haas’s work, the gentlest of the contributors, worries the more melancholy margins of ardor, the ways in which one plunges through the self into a private universe, huge in scope, where one may live and oversee several love affairs, all the sweeter for never being entirely apprehended, and where they may unfold without the drab misfortune of reality. Often, his contemplation of a beloved remains not fully formed, an abstraction that hums with the light and force of his adoration (or, in the example of Boy at Stratford, bathed in a soft remembrance, certain features recede while others are emphasised, a tender concentration on significant attributes).
The Park, an otherwise sedate canvas of park grounds, is charged with the thrilling possibilities and potentials of those bodies who may come to inhabit it. His masterpiece, Boy At the Window, a nocturnal reverie of intense secrecy and self-gratification, accentuates the naked back of an alert young man (cut off from full definition) peering out his window at a field of surging colour and animation-inscribed directly onto an actual blind (of soft green hue), its materiality directly resonates with the themes of voyeurism and the clandestine, of a dazzling world one step removed. Like all such fragile oneiric (onanistic) environments, with but a turn of a cord, the blinds open, the dreamer wakes, the glare of the day intrudes, the trance breaks.
In the compressed gallery space, with its occasional slightly odd angle, these works address, with boldness and thoughtfulness, that state in which a desired individual (object?) transforms from the ordinary into the realm of myth, never quite seen through the garish lens of the everyday. Instead, the journey becomes the one the devotee takes along the majestic boundaries of the emotions into a rarefied expanse of (naturally sustained) narcotic sensation. Objects of Desire closed on 18 November