In Bermondsey Square, just south of the Thames, VIRTINE gallery presented the first London solo exhibition, Torschlusspanik, by Charlie Godet Thomas, running from the November 24, 2015 to January, 23 2016.
While the gallery focuses on the varied materiality of the exhibition as key to its site specificity —“the bridging [of] sculpture, photography and painting … exploring the intersection between language and materiality” —there is something else to be said about the location of the exhibition itself. The swirling colours of ‘Sateen Dura-Luxe No.1’ evoke London’s famous river lifeblood just to the north, while the repeated architectural images of a brutalist balcony create the impression of a wall, pointing to the exhibition’s title, ‘Torschlusspanik’. Translated from German, ‘gate-shut-panic’ seems an apt diagnosis for the increasing social, economic and material divides (or walls) of the city itself.
Godet Thomas plays with stillness and movement in the assembled works, repetition a recurring motif. The tiled prints of Drano, a ubiquitous US-American cleaning product, suggest not only Warhol but also frenetic artistic movement, the slow fading out of each image pointing to a diminishing return on labour, of running out of steam. Meanwhile, brushstrokes interrupt another photographic repetition in ‘Felon of Himself (Jump from the South Portico) No.1′ giving the piece decided urgency. The slow melting of wax and its pooling in the gallery foreground this sense of movement quite obviously. More subtly, rubber walking sticks, drooping from the sky seem to hold two contradictory states: a rigid fixity and the inexorable unwinding of time and old age.
Movement is also discernible with a wax plastic bag of lemons, their contents partially scattered on the floor. Their stillness in place suggests the flight of an absent shopper. Where did they run to? There is a story here. In each of the works absence is, paradoxically, a strong presence. From the invisible grocery shopper, to the owners of the walking sticks and, finally, to the artist himself.**
Exhibition photos, top right.