Sunday 6 October 2013

Casually Perfect: Jo Addison at Tintype Gallery

Burrowed between a taxidermist and a nail parlour on Islington’s Essex Road, Tintype’s new gallery space is holding its first exhibition, Jo Addison’s Not Trees and People. Travis Riley braves the startlingly middle-class Islington Streets to find out more.

Unkk (2013)

Through the gallery’s colossal new front window a display of eight small pieces, simply hung, can be seen. The most obtrusive work in the show, the satisfyingly named Unkk (2013), is a plywood protrusion from the left wall, in the shape of a semi-circular prism. Whilst the bottom of the work is suspended just off the floor, the flat top of the piece is at seat height and a bite has been taken out of its edge.

Emulating the bite-mark from the opposite wall is Cloud (2013), an off-white cartoon-cloud silhouette. The edges of the cloud, formed of card and jesmonite, are splashed with colourful splotches of gouache. Eyes dart back across the gallery to Remainder (2013), a clump of pink, fleshy, clay cylinders mulched together and glazed in white. It looks like a moist hunk of brain matter, and in shape, might well sit inside Cloud.

Cloud (2013)
Remainder (2013)

Think Thing (2011) is a ceramic pole leant up against the right wall of the gallery space. It has been painted pink except for its grey tips, which, left uncovered, protrude pleasingly. Like the repeated form of the cloud (or bite-mark) the simple act of leaving the ends unfinished causes immediate reference to the act of making.

Between the cloud and the pink pole is a small, dull, darkish brown rectangle of plywood, slightly frayed about the edge and with irregular slits cut into its circumference (Knotty, 2013). Wedged into the corners of two of the cuts are small pieces of knotted thread, one blue and one orange. The thread disappears directly behind the wood leaving in doubt whether the strings connect and where they end.

Knotty (2013)

This play on the artwork’s gravitation to the white gallery wall is continued by Flap (2012), an MDF board hung high above the other pieces. Its shape is indescribably unstructured and its surface is a rough painted, uneven and unappealing yellow. At its top are two hinges; it seems to lie unusually flat against the wall but it could be lifted up.

Despite appearances, it is more difficult to make an irregular football than a regular one. Borl (2013) sits at the far end of the gallery on the floor. The piece mimics the shape of a football, the tessellation of pentagons and hexagons, but it is formed of card and glue and is hopelessly lumpen. Blue glue sits on the outside of the joins in card, punctuating the ball’s apparently mercurial irregularity.

Borl (2013)

Two cylindrical wood pieces, slightly bigger than wine corks, stick out from the wall. On them is mounted a corrugated cardboard sheet. It has two circular holes, which allow the wood to protrude through. The piece, Two Holes One (2013), is set off by this one point of material interplay – the touching of the card and the wood, the distinction between two wooden pegs and one card sheet.

Two Holes One (2013)

Whether in the guise of Think Thing’s unfinished paint job, the rough surface of Flap or the clumsily made football, the works in the show lean on an impression of unworried immediacy. In truth, however, each piece has been developed through a slow and methodical process (like the holes in the card, each work contains an element of exact, gestural design). This is art that hides any languid methodology in favour of a surface fuelled – oh, I just threw it together – extemporaneousness, a sort of casual perfection.

Travis Riley

Jo Addison: Not Trees and People 
18 September - 26 October
Tintype Gallery, London N1

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