Robin Mason - Obsession
13 October - 2 November 2006
There's a wonderful quality of making and expression in this exhibition. Amikam Toren's Institute of Insomnia, Andrew Grassie's gallery painting and Barnaby Hosking's Bottle of Darkness all form part of the eclectic conglomeration of work at Sartorial Contemporary Art. From a beautiful woven body form, Darkness, by Shelly Goldsmith (winner of the Jerwood Prize for Textiles), Fairy Skeletons by Tessa Farmer and reveries in the replications of bird egg collections by Tony Carter this exhibition lives up to its title of obsession. As you enter the Gallery the word obsession in three- dimensional pink greets you, seducing and repelling. The hallway is dominated by a self portrait by Conrad Frankel glaring at the entrance door from on high, the artist has replicated the same self portrait reductively as you pass through the hallway to the gallery space, the portraits diminishing until postage stamp in scale, they halt their distancing and enter the miniature. Drawings, drawing on the playful, the painful the repetitive and more are scattered throughout the space, the exhibition doubles as a survey of the possibility of drawing, the highest quality of conceptual and emotional drawing is clearly evident. In the main space there's a small Perspex box filled with polystyrene packaging squiggles, take a second look, each one is painstakingly carved out of marble. There are hearts that inflate and deflate, there are paintings made by touch from Teresita Dennis and a large painting by Ann- Caroline Breig, it's an extraordinary riotous celebration of sexuality and colour, a party of pattern and seduction. The jeweller Debra Allman and the painter Robin Mason are represented individually with their beautifully crafted surreal organic works and have joined forces to produce a series of fetish works transcribed from Fontana, in particular The Secret Garden, the manipulation of pink plastic fabric and antique swans down has never looked so erotic. A glimpse to the left and a flock of seagulls, real seagulls as if ripped on the rocks reveal the contents of their guts, transformed from the disgusting the gulls flow with embroidery and are beautified in their death, rescued from the internet by Jane Howarth, they twist you into the next work, half a public lavatory by Andrew Bannister, that expands itself into a whole Lacanian reflective moment of childhood and self discovery. Gretta Sarfaty Marchant's video piece follows her personal daily preparation and pampering, applying make up and seducing her “self image” as we as voyeurs look on, try to move away but peer on. With all the Art to choose from in London's busiest month it would be well worth putting aside a moment to enter the enchantment and wonderful exploration of subject in this show. This gallery's mantra of offering curators and artists a place to experiment, has enabled a rare moment of pleasure to be created. Don't miss it.
Michael Fenton (Independent Critic)