Wednesday, 21 November 2007

Eva Rothschild at South London Gallery. Jenine McGaughran

Spindle-like structures punctuate the air of the South London Gallery. Left to meander a path through the labyrinth of sculptures, drawn to neither one nor another, but instead encouraged to drift.

The sculptures or drawings in space, serve to offer a stark contrast with their environment, alluding to a chaos that seems far away. Perpetually juxtaposing, they are at once inviting and prohibiting, hard yet soft, smooth but textured.

The compulsion to touch engendered by the tactile quality of these works is at once intriguing and conflicting. While the hand desires to reach out and touch the architectural forms the menacing serpents warn of the dangers involved in such an intimate encounter.

Notions of entanglement occur throughout; fabric wrapped around sculptures, papers interlocking in the creation of patterns and images, snakes weaved around spindles.
Their size too offers a strange contradiction, while they are large; they are by no means imposing, not quite flimsy but fragile and delicate enough to be knocked over.
There is a comfort in the coherence of the works but a suggestion of entrapment and suffocation caused by the asphyxiating serpents bound tightly around the fragile structures.

The constant figuring of serpents seems to reference temptation, while the use of leather composed to look like whips alludes to something erotic or even sinister.

While most of the works physicality is evident others confuse and disorientate. A large black irregular lump offers fragmented reflections from its mirrored surface, producing a ruptured reflection of the self. This is alluded to elsewhere in the exhibition with a corner sculpture composed of a smooth black reflective surface, interrupted by a matrix of lines that jut out into the viewers’ space. While the mirror seeks to tempt and entrap the spectator, drawing them closer into a simultaneous inspection of the work and self, they are kept firmly at length by the protruding architectural lines that penetrate the surrounding space.

On reflection Eva Rothschild’s subtle puns created with her use of imagery and medium is complex and considered. While her sculptures can allude to the work of artists such as Eva Hesse and thus draw comparisons with Minimalism, it is perhaps more important to uncover what Rothschild is implying through such considered appropriations of imagery and medium.

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