There's a shared show at Camden Arts Centre in North London. Verne Dawson has two rooms. One of these is filled with immense though rather inconsequential paintings of trapeze artists caught in flight. Strangely the paintings themselves look far more vibrant and alive when they are reproduced in the small gallery booklet. On the walls, the acrobats just hang there in space with no sense of movement; static and flat and, frankly, boring.
Dawson's other room is much better. His Cycle of Quarter Day Observances, circa 23800bc series is far more fun than the title suggests. The best of these, When Santa Was A Shaman has these little folk dancing around a maypole while above them a huge ominous sky looms blacker and blacker and blacker. The painting is thrilling with more drama, depth and movement than any of the trapeze pictures. It's like Lowry drawing Disney stickmen to dance around Bruegel's Tower of Babel
In the other gallery, Urs Fischer has painted two fallen tree branches silver and balanced a candle on each. They are hung from the ceiling and revolve slowly dripping candle wax in bisecting circles across the parquet floor. I guess its telling me something about time and I watch the candles go around for a few minutes in the hope that they tell me something about time that all the other similar works I have seen haven't but what I am actually left thinking about in the end is how difficult it will be to get the wax off these wooden floors.
I read that Fischer recently showed a house made out of bread and I notice that the wall under the window in the gallery is bulging and the plaster is crumbling away. And I'm wondering if that is part of the work too. But this piece of wall is right next to where the attendant is sitting reading her book and now I've been looking at the wall for longer than the work and I'm thinking I can't really take a closer look so I don't. But now, typing this, I am still not sure whether that was art or a bit of crumbling wall. Camden Arts Centre has only recently reopened after a ¬£4.2 million refit. Worry about the walls, the floor is already ruined.
Kirk Lake is a writer, musician and filmmaker. His published books include Mickey The Mimic (2015) and The Last Night of the Leamington Licker (2018). His films include the feature films Piercing Brightness (2014) and The World We Knew (2020) and a number of award winning shorts.
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