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Images Moving Out Onto Space

Rupert Loydell

Images Moving Out Onto Space

Tate St Ives

Until September 27, 2015

One of the by-products of art that requires some kind of explanation instead of looking at, has been the curated exhibition, the gathering up of artists and their work to fit a pre-conceived idea, even if it means a little shoehorning. For me, this new eight artist show works much better as a collection of work by individual artists, than as a group suggesting answers to the given question, 'What happens when art works are set in motion? When they move around the gallery or out into the world?' T h e f i r s t room presents a wide-ranging series of prints and paintings by Bridget Riley, including some early op art work, and the rarely seen Fragment suite of prints on perspex. The curved black and white lines of 1963's Fall certainly appears to move, as do the subtly shifting ellipses in Deny II; but the hard black shapes on perspex show not the slightest flicker, nor do the cool landscape colours of the much later painting, Nataraja. This works much better as a mini-retrospective or overview of Riley's work, or would do if the room wasn't dominated by the rotating cone sculptures of Liliane Lijn. Each cone has inscribed perspex lines, often coloured, each is illuminated from within; their gloss surface finish and simple wavering lines do not give viewers much to look at. More intriguing is Trio, a spot lit group of black rotating tubes, each producing a shimmering, flickering line of light in response to the bright illumination. Even the gallery guide can't relate John Divola's photographs of derelict Californian beach huts to the theme, it merely mentions evolution and change. That aside these are astonishing coloured photos detailing dereliction, decay and vandalism in relation to the natural world around and beyond them, although I find it a little bit odd that the artist sometimes found it necessary to 'move things around or do some spray paintings' if 'nothing seemed to interest' him. But the photos are great. The beautiful curved sea-facing gallery contains a number of large abstract works by Bryan Wynter, which draw on observations and ideas of water running over rocks, the interplay of light and landscape. They are clean, deceptively simple paintings full of soft colour and ambiguous shapes - an absolute delight, although can't say the same for Wynter's Imoos VI, which is basically a motorised painted mobile in front of a curved mirror. This piece has been wheeled out every few years since Tate St Ives opened, and it never fails to feel slight and merely a playful aside to a great painter's work; that it should be the inspiration and touchstone for this exhibition may be part of the problem... The same gallery also contains sculptures from the Tate collection, re-presented as a tableaux on tables, arranged higgledy piggledy in front of the Wynter paintings. This is the work of Nicolas Deshayes, an artist- in-residence. Although the sculptures are beautiful in themselves and intriguingly arranged and juxtaposed, they are hard to place within the context of art being set in motion, or moving around or out of the gallery; mostly, they are just in the way of those who would like to take a longer look at the Wynters! Rivane Neuenschander's I Wish Your Wish is a participatory installation that clearly does move out of the gallery. Thousands of vividly coloured ribbons, each printed with a wish provided by the local community, are set in rows around the triangular space. Visitors are invited to take one each, replacing it with a rolled up piece of paper with their own wish written on it. The wish and ribbon move out into the world; a neat, simple, inspired and inspiring piece of work. Throughout the afternoon I visited, adults and children alike hunted to find a slogan and a colour they liked, then turned them into bracelets or bag adornments, scrunched them into their pockets or placed them in sketchbooks, smiling all the while. The next room is a beautiful piece of sculpture by Don Flavin, who made his minimalist light sculptures from commercially available fluorescent bulbs, carefully arranged in grids or repeated variations, in this case a line of T-shaped constructions. Flavin also considered how his work would affect the exhibition space, that is he light and space were also his chosen materials, but it seems disingenuous to try and turn this into a comment about how his work magnifies movements (presumably that of the viewers) through space. Flavin's work speaks for itself: it is clear and forthright, simple and understated. After sitting and carefully looking at Flavin's work, the final room, new work by Deshayes, is a disappointment. Becoming Soil's steel and enamelled pipes, some unfolding flat, are laid on a plinth, whilst Luncheon in Charcoal is a nine panel piece that juxtaposes vacuum- formed plastic sections with anodised and powder- coated aluminium. These industrial processes and finishes allow for little surface complexity, and these works feel both slick and slight. They are certainly no competition for Henri Gaudier-Brzeska's Wrestlers which Deshayes' has placed high on the wall up above his own work