Reveal the Tension

Venue: The Norman Rea Gallery
Runs: 24 Jan – 4 Feb 2011
Curator: Samia Calbayrac
Rating: ****

The Norman Rea Gallery has recently opened its doors to solo exhibiting artist Adeline De Monseignat, who into this space brings an intriguing mix of disruption and harmony. Encompassing drawing, painting, sculpture and installation, Reveal The Tension: The Grid, the Cut, the Body and the Absurd lives up to its evocative title in full.

This is a collection of works full of subtle surprises in its sleek forms and monochromatic tones. Textures and materials we may not encounter together, but are nonetheless ordinary and familiar, are merged: eggshells, fur, coffee, wood, paper and glass, to name a few. Whether this element of the beautifully absurd is an egg perched precariously on a pile of miniature books, or a dramatic installation in the form of a wall bursting at the seams, De Monseignat reminds us of the aspects of objects that we have forgotten to see: the tension inherent in them due to the fact that they contain something we don’t have access to.

Hence the cut: the tearing away to reveal, as De Monseignat often mentions in her titles, the truth. However, before we can groan at the inevitability of this malleable and much-explored concept cropping up, the physical proof of this tearing/revealing is so concretely there that the viewer can’t help but confront and consider it.

A wall installation that greets you as soon as you enter, one which definitely requires a few seconds of study to reassure yourself this isn’t the actual wall of Langwith’s second floor caving in, is a great example of this potentially overdone concept being explored in a fresh, humorously confrontational way. That so much material, texture and life could be bursting from within the cold, blank face of a wall immediately triggers a change of perspective in the viewer that the sensory saturation, the ‘glance-and-go’ of everyday life, denies.

The egg is another object the Monaco-born artist is clearly intrigued by – it is present in almost every work, if not the central element of it. Reminiscent of Dalí’s use of this symbol, for De Monseignat it sometimes serves the purpose of a contained truth; sometimes the embryonic form of an idea; sometimes the fragility of the artwork when facing exposure to the public. One such piece, Truth Can Stand By Itself (2010), has a strikingly agile form that demonstrates the artist’s appreciation of aesthetics even as she deliberately chooses to place meaning above it. The single egg rests on the detached arm of a wooden chair, now protruding from the wall; surreal yet mundane, pleasing yet absurd.

Revealing an artist who is quietly daring, able to view her work lightheartedly and comically, and comfortable with exploring material in all its physicality, Reveal the Tension is a must-see for anyone who wants a moment to just look, and keep looking.

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