Things that Tumble Twice – Oliver Castel, Ian Law, Florian
This review was first published on this is tomorrow
It’s good to see that it’s not only London’s über-gallerists that are able to afford the huge curatorial possibilities that two, neighbouring spaces allow. While larger, commercial spaces here usually use both to maximise profit by showcasing a pair of artists from their stable in two entirely separate exhibitions at once, a much smaller, practitioner-driven space like Tenderpixel is able to use its resources to push more cerebral concerns.
‘Things That Tumble Twice’ attempts to do just that. Tucked among the secondhand bookshops just off Leicester Square, its former shop windows containing the two episodes of this show make an intriguing addition to the neighbouring retailers.
Artists Oliver Castel, Ian Law and Florian Rothmayr have used the pair of spaces to explore ideas of duality, interconnectedness and change. The works that inhabit one often act as a fairground mirror reflection of those in the other – Oliver Castel’s ‘Mokumoren Mimosa’ (2015), for example, is composed of three vinyl wall pieces (two inside and one hanging outside the gallery like an odd, old-fashioned shop sign) and two small mimosa plants. Both of the larger, interior versions have been installed in Tenderpixel’s two basements: one is white, well-lit and installed over a half-open doorway through which we glimpse a small, dying mimosa plant; the other black with no direct light on it at all. This feels like a reference to yin and yang, the grid of scrawled eyes – which could so easily have been hand drawn – hints at ancient pagan symbolism while being rendered in oily plastic.
Florian Rothmayr’s ‘Endstart no.4’ and ‘Endstart no.5’ (both 2015) also offer a material meditation on imperfect repetition. Both sets of varied, hook-like sculptures hang over the two sets of stair rails – one set made from cast concrete and one from rubber. As you wander from the first space to the second your memory of the rough, grey versions is invaded by the latest, bouncy black ones. The ‘real’ work, I think, lies in the gap between these non-identical, sculptural twins, in neither one nor the other but in whatever we construct in our heads from the two combined.
The dual parts of Ian Law’s ‘Infirm Arbroath’ (2015) act as imperfect copies of each other, too. Law has sawn a clinical blue sofa seat into two, odd-sized pieces, placed one in each space, and left a copy of his limited edition book on each. The act of reflection and stuttering repetition here extends in yet another direction – the piles of newspapers propping up these structures have apparently been appropriated from the artist’s recently completed residency at Hospitalfield in Scotland.
There are two curatorial concerns at play here, one to do with duality and repetition, the other with mutability and decay. The remnants of what were once bunches of mimosa flowers, for example, are scattered over both floors, the organic element of Castel’s ‘Mimesis’ (2015) (the other being piles of used florist buckets.) Just one of these strands is enough. The show gets a little confused by tackling both. There’s more than enough depth to explore in the idea of ‘twoness’, as the strongest pairs of works here prove.