Monday, 10 April 2017

Study #15. Untitled (The Ninth Resort). Charles Avery and a very Avery afternoon.

Why do I go to all these galleries and, in the words of a supposed friend, why do I write "all this shit" about them afterwards? Well, truth be told, I'm not sure. I like art but that doesn't necessarily mean I have go to and see so bloody much of it. Some of it's terrible too.

The good stuff makes it worthwhile but I think a lot of it is down to the simple fact that it gets me out of the house. It takes me to parts of London I might otherwise not visit. Further beyond sometimes. I get to have a pint or two in different pubs across the capital and, sometimes, catch up with friends when I'm round their way.

The writing about it is in part a chance to exercise whatever creative juices I have and also some kind of way of trying to justify my existence. I have no children, my last serious relationship went tits up and, now, through choice, I don't have a job. I've got to do SOMETHING and the local Wetherspoons gets depressing very quickly indeed. Like the second you walk through the door.

So be jealous of my life of leisure if you like. Or mock my simple and sad existence if you'd rather. But remember if I'd had the executive function and social skills to sort out a 'normal' life for myself I probably wouldn't have time for this nonsense.

Why have I wasted the first four paragraphs talking self-indulgently about myself instead of Charles Avery's ungainly titled Study #15. Untitled (The Ninth Resort) at the David Roberts Art Foundation though? Well, that's because Avery's art if so self-indulgent I'd probably have to live inside his mind to even have a chance of understanding it. So if he can be self-indulgent then so can I. Sorry for making you spend those few moments in my mind.

That doesn't necessarily mean Avery's work is crap, some of it's quite pleasant to look at it, but it does mean it's predicated on a concept that neither I, nor presumably anyone other than Avery himself, is party to. So there's lot to take photos of, mocked up jars of pickled eggs, models of eels in buckets, rope, a stapler, pallets, and busts of both the sculptural and mamillary variety.

Avery was born in Oban on the west coast of Scotland in 1973 and, surely inspired by the island of Mull where he grew up, he has spent the last decade or so creating a 'perpetual description of an imaginary island'. He's described, in various media, the main town Onomatopoeia, a market place, and an Emerald Forest where lives an unknown beast called the Noumenon. Much like my mind, or anyone else's, it's sometimes a pretty place and sometimes a dark place.
 The Camden exhibition takes in such characters as The Hunter (an explorer protagonist who seems to represent us the viewers), the Duculi (both a god and a tragic creature whose two canine bodies are fused at the neck in a blind eternal struggle), and the philosopher inhabitants of the island, the Dooks, who wear various types of elaborate headwear (seemingly made of Lego) depending on whichever philosophical school they belong to.


Of course if you can't read these ciphers, crack these codes (and let's be honest, you won't be able to) it won't mean a great deal to you. So you just boil the art down to its barest essence. Does it look nice? Is it interesting?

If you could see enough of Avery's work you might be able to start making some sense of the story he's trying to tell but as he's shown his work in Edinburgh, Paris, Rotterdam, Venice, and Stockholm as well as London that'd involve an awful lot of travelling - and an awful lot of money. Money and time you'd surely prefer to spend on something more fulfilling.

So the geometric monuments, the cyclists, and the dingy industrial margins of Onomatopoeia - they're Avery's world and we're just visitors. It doesn't feel very inclusive. It's like watching a child play with their action figures or toy cars. There's no doubt a wonderful narrative of events going on inside their heads but it's one we're not party too.
It's good to keep a childlike sense of wonder but Avery's not a child anymore so he really should have leant to share. I have. In fact, harking back to the opening paragraphs of this blog, it could be said that, if anything, I overshare. Neither Avery, nor his eels, are as a slippery as they first appear.

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