L’Amour Fou - David Nolan Gallery
21 February - 30 March 2013
Gallery: David Nolan Gallery
The wistful gaze in this quiet and contemplative exhibition, with its ghosts and its strange python pipe corpses, contemplates the contemporary paradoxes of our times. Gripped by our asphyxiating obsessions, the artist reveres the smoke like a fortune telling adman and sees transcendent beauty in the symbols of our self-destruction. And then, as our shrink, he patiently sits eyes fixed on us as we reveal the layers and concealments of our subconscious. We have all the answers of course, but we know nothing. In this escalating age of communications, transportation, technological brilliance, and rational enlightenment, we are no clearer about value or even truth. While our scientists and politicians argue we traverse the planet seeking the Holy Grail, or at least a good time, as we exhaust our resources and our history in an orgy of consumption.
Turk has borrowed the name of a German town with a traumatic past for the dominant motif of the show: Darmstadt literally translates as ‘Intestine City’. The misshapen, strangely beautiful, pipe structure is a unique bronze cast, meticulously rendered with oil paint back to its crude scorched form. This vital component removes the noxious waste from the combustion engine sending it back behind us as fecal matter was once carried along open street sewers. The pipe, a symbol of more innocent times as Bertrand Russell and his fellow intellectuals puffed their way to enlightenment and The Brave New World, has now mutated into its bastard son.
The cathedralesque surround to these altar-pieces, with their corpse-like forms, are framed by epic scale images of billowing smoke. The blossoming incense hypnotizing us with its mystical and mysterious forms. Mediating on the patterns and forms, we search our subconscious seeking signposts to our soul. The Id and the Superego vying for submission as we are repelled and attracted like a pair of magnets. Or perhaps our thoughts are merely a parapraxis - a Freudian slip - as our subconscious sees what isn’t really there. Smoke and mirrors, the Emperor’s New Clothes, Now You See it Now You Don’t.
The second room bears evidence of the fruits of the first. Black holes burning through our retinas like staring at the sun, the charcoal-like mark of the exhaust in a feat of comical automatic drawing. The fart of the car, like a contemporary cave drawing, encapsulating the ironies of our age: waste made exquisite – T. S. Eliot would have approved. The central altarpiece in this room absorbing the power of the human to give and to take away. The alien form of Kubrick’s monolith is crushed to a cuboid brain. The poetry of our love affair with the car, reduced in the crusher (like the body in the crematorium) to the smallest unit of metal waste. But this is no ordinary car, this is a pulverized White Transit Van, a symbol of the demise of the working class male, as the age of logistics threatens human autonomy. Now curtain sided mega-trucks trundle along our arterial super-highways like the glistening Amazon snaking though the jungle.
Through this, the witch-lore of the fortuneteller appears attractive. Gaze into my crystal ball and I will show you the way. While we seek meaning, the artist guides us through, navigating the beauty in our wasteful times.