Sunday, 5 December 2010

The Devil took the Details

At the RiseArt launch at Gallery Primo Alonso, Hackney Road, London.

Walking the iced un-gritted pavements eastward in the snow, I realise I only ever crossed Hackney Road. I know the junctions well as nodal points in traverses of the city, but not the street as a length. Here are solid London-brick terraced properties that would grace anywhere were they elsewhere, and here is Gallery Primo Alonso.
I wonder what it was.
I’ve passed mirror shops and betting shops and a bingo hall, the odd braced looking restaurant, bright lit veg oil smelling fast food places, and establishments making furniture and handbags. There’s a shut-down children’s hospital. Haggerston Park park is smartened up.
The gallery is tiny, the works are tinier and perfectly standard sized people are giants as they stoop, peer and cross from one end to the other in four paces by seven. I checked as not many of us are here for it’s still early and a half inch (2 cms) of snow scares Britain to a standstill.

God is in the Details is the title of the show, ‘A celebration of craftsmanship and precision in fine art’, but ha, old eyes don’t do detail no more.
We early arrivers dwarfed art that could be mistaken for light-switches, and surreptitiously at first then ostentatiously wearing my strongest reading glasses, I paid sudden attention to alarm-code keypads just in case they weren’t . . . or were. The other early few are all young; they look like the gods should, bearded but smooth of face, limbs rounded, breasts held not held up, and you would have to be young to have eyes acute enough to see this ‘old as new’ show.
Making small is, when all's said and done, a harking back or yearning for absolute control and security.
This is Art made with cross-eyed-focus featuring ephemera; cassette cases (Gong Yu), a glass placenta, an embroidered super-market check out slip, asemic poetry (James Brooks), a perfectly poised sterling sliver pencil (hallmarked) (Tom Cookson), the mysteries of the prism and peek holes into 1:16 scale cardboard boxed environments.
Not being able to discern the detail renders them sterile, mind well Mijo Yoshida’s
BodyCash: Placenta is triumphantly sterile with a pill-like calculator battery making the perfect touch in a starkly well made point, almost glib, but none-the-less for that. A pace and turn away, a doll exposes herself in anatomical deconstruction of self before a tiny mirror (Erica Dorn).
I felt deconstructed to disconnection. My eyes are too old for this, I physically can’t see it and even less could I do it anymore.
I used to work small, to engrave universes in miniature and noticed then that there were viewers who quite simply could not see what I was doing. It was to them what these works are to me, blurs and smudges on perfect white walls for A Devil has taken away detail.
There is something of a ‘freak show’ about miniature art - the dimensional insignificance of the works lends plenty of swinging room to the suspicion of obsessiveness in both the artist (often here admitted) and viewer. There is a rationale to scale in respect to what is being ‘said’, but this is not jewelry or micro-electronics. Can the Gospels really be inscribed on the head of a pin, and if so, so amazing . . . but so what so crafty?

God is in the Details is sponsored by RiseArt and was there . . . as a giant amongst the art and big enough for me to see. RiseArt has money for staff, for organisation, for moving away from their initial virtual platform, for commissioning shows and prints and sponsorship . . . now there’s an impressive and rare thing!

Detailed beginnings, but God must be young to see them.

Switch Mask


  1. We early arrivers dwarfed art that could be mistaken for light-switches

    One of my most embarrassing moments in a gallery was when I studied a light switch for a full five minutes thinking it was art. It wasn't. It was a light switch. How was I supposed to know? The label for the art was positioned too close to it.

  2. Hi Kevin,
    Glad you liked the show and enjoyed reading this post. Look forward to seeing you at our next event.

    The Rise Art Team