World as Lover, World as SelfChapter 1: City Pollen by Magali Reus
Magali's photographic and sculptural work evokes new material association and rendering. For Chapter 1: City Pollen, Magali resurfaces Shimmer's interior walls with large-scale images of the facades of Dutch flower trucks. These trucks, beautifully contained lozenges of colour and striking typography, offer up the strange paradox of hard external skins with their perishable organic cargo. Featuring detailed depictions of floral exuberance, these blooms transform the metal armour of vehicle anatomy into softly erotic and malleable substances. Framed in isolation, the images question what it means to render an image and how quickly the hierarchy of looking can enter a process of symbolic reversal.
Hung directly atop the wallpaper-sized imagery are two works from the artist’s recent sculptural series Settings. The series Settings takes the NO PARKING road sign as its starting point. Immediate graphic communication is the architectural essence of road signs: their message is a first and primary function – go this way, stop here, warning: dog. Yet nested into the public sphere over time they accrue fragments of information, contradictory patterns, or surface interventions that open them up to material collage. Like cultural artifacts they are a quiet canvas for a more unhinged type of mark-making: the obscure shadow-play of nightlife, globs of bird shit or chewing gum, busted headlamp residue, lost dog pleas, advertising, and pornography. In Settings the toughness of the baked enamel surface has been perverted with process interruptions: the surfaces are sanded, masked, adjusted, airbrushed. Each deliberate erosion creates a slippage of the NO PARKING function, thus altering the original simplicity of the circle-slash pictogram with a more metaphoric type of weather.
At mirror height, the Settings works read as a type of portraiture: polyvocal eyes, heads, or faces, they are watching us as we watch them. Objects from the genre of domestic melodrama (toothpaste, mousetrap, windscreen wiper) are enshrined behind Perspex in small recessed cavities. Like place markers at a table, these utensils are now complicit performers in the watching. Provocatively perfect replicas of their real-life selves, each implies an action – foaming, a snapping, a killing, an isolating. They amplify the pun of their very existence as signs: take one layer away and beneath it lies yet more language and symbolist instruction.
Between these two works, the structural significance is confused, as Reus collapses the scale and conventional materiality of images as mechanisms for establishing value. An organic form is newly huge, baggy, unidentifiable, whilst fragments of a more domestic ubiquity – toothpaste, a torch, intercom buttons – enter into uncharted cycles of displacement. Everything is abstracted from its expected function: the hinted proximity of human touch lingers, with the material in both its literal and metaphoric sense used as an emotional or chemical sign to subtlety morph or force the tone of the work overall.
About Magali Reus
Magali Reus was born in Den Haag, The Netherlands in 1981, and currently lives and works in London. Forthcoming solo exhibitions include Nasher Sculpture Center, Dallas, USA; The Perimeter, London, UK (both 2021), Museum Dhondt-Dhaenens, Ghent, BE and CAC Synagogue de Delme, FR (2022). Recent solo shows include As mist, description, South London Gallery, London (2018); Hot Cottons, Bergen Kunsthall, Bergen (2017); Night Plants, Kunstmuseum St. Gallen, St. Gallen (2017); Mustard, The Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam (2016); Quarters, Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, Turin (2016); Spring for a Ground, SculptureCenter, New York; Particle of Inch, The Hepworth Wakefield, Wakefield; Halted Paves, Westfälischer Kunstverein, Münster (all 2015). Reus has been included in group exhibitions and screenings at Tate Britain, London; ICA, London; CCS Bard Hessel Museum of Art, Annandale-on-Hudson; Kestnergesellschaft, Hanover; LUMA Westbau, Zürich; Kunsthalle Wien, Vienna; David Roberts Art Foundation, London; Museu Nacional de Arte Contemporanea, Lisbon, De Appel, Amsterdam and the British Art Show 8 (touring).
Reus has been shortlisted for the Hepworth Prize for Sculpture 2018 and was awarded the Prix de Rome 2015. Her work is included in international collections including Tate Collection, UK; Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam; Collection CCS Bard Hessel Museum of Art, Annandale-on-Hudson; Kunstmuseum Winterthur; Kunstmuseum St. Gallen; Lafayette Anticipation — Fonds de dotation Famille Moulin, Paris; Rubell Family Collection, Miami; Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, Turin; New York David Roberts Art Foundation, London; Zabludowicz Collection, London, Sarvisalo, New York; Arts Council Collection, UK; The Government Art Collection, London. Represented by The Approach, London