An unnerving hiss of wind blows through the entrance to Off Season, UK multi-media artist Rob Chavasse’s latest show at The Sunday Painter. Titled ‘Séance’, this tuned field recording sets the scene for the rest of the exhibition. Played out on two speakers, in a room of its own, at the top of a stairwell, it bleeds our ears before our eyes. The senses are locked onto an abstraction in the air, before being allowed a view of the visual.
Each of Chavasse’s works play on this initial reflex in one way or another. Upstairs within the main white walled room, altered to work as part of the exhibition display, an unusual readymade is found in the form of a radiator. Its heat wave, like ‘Séance’’s sound wave, points in the direction of forces beyond our visual perception, emanating between and beyond the walls.
Installed above it, a large, black piece titled ‘S.A.D’ brings these convection currents in contact with the material. Produced using a scanner left outdoors the lambda print is an optical recording of speckled rainfall patterns, their movement and the glitches created as the scanning device began to crash. A digital work, about natural forces, that inverts drops of water into fragmented white space, only to be brought back to life by the light of day.
In a sense ‘S.A.D’ is activated by the sunlight, the radiator and each of the surrounding works also play against each other’s darker, optimistic or even neutral sides. However you choose to see it, the beauty is in where you choose to stand and where you let your imagination take you. At first glance ‘Kola cube Cola,’ a screen print positioned opposite ‘S.A.D,’ might appear to reflect on its opposite number, built out of a mirror with cloud-like patterns on its surface.
As its title suggests, though, Chavasse is having fun with the idea that a sweet reproduces an already synthetic tasting fizzy beverage. And what surprises further is that at just the right angle you can catch a glimpse of a figure in the reverse of the screen print, based on an image from the film Yeti: Curse of The Snow Demon. Perhaps, it is in itself the idea of what we see up in clouds being subjective reverie but nevertheless representing a very real fear of something out there that cannot be grasped.
Brilliantly, ‘Disco not Disco’ continues this surprise element, presenting in its elongated rectangular shape and apparent abstract expressionist style, what seems to be an homage to Jackson Pollock but is in fact the dirty wastage of a night club crowd presented on calico. It’s a documentation of a very certain type of energy laced with glitter raised to the status of art.
There’s much more, of course. ‘Cowboy Casino’ documents an urban intervention monumentalising the architect Eliott Noyes‘ now derelict petrol stations and ‘Not too clever emoticon’ forges the minimalism of Russian Suprematist Kazimir Malevich’s Black Square with its readymade function as a Warmwave Fenix GR900 glass panel heater. It’s here that Chavasse hints most explicitly to the Marshall Berman essay examining modernisation and its conflicting relationship with modernism, as well the shared belief that “all that is solid melts into air”.
Rob Chavasse’s OFF SEASON is on at The Sunday Painter, London and runs from February 22 to March 17, 2013.