Tuesday, 26 March 2013


Pastel and charcoal on paper and balsa MDF, 170 X 115CM

Man&Eve Gallery
What's he building out there?

The opening of a new gallery is always a cause for rejoicing, but especially one less than 5 minutes' walk from Waterloo Station and The Old Vic in Southbank's Lower Marsh, a busy shopping street with weekday market stalls. The gallery windows - as big as a department store's - and  Wieland Payer's large canvasses and screens mean busy passers-by tend to glance in, and then pause in front of his seductive colours.

Inside the gallery are awe-inspiring woodlands and mountains and streams, voluptuous in their beauty. Unsettling too. Nothing is quite as it seems. In Talstation  the woodland is curvy, soft, fragile, misty, and the painting seems to have the romanticism and metaphysical qualities of Caspar David Friedrich. For this is a world where anything can happen. 

Look closely and the branches of the trees are straight out of a Grimm fairy tale, poised ready to bend down and snaffle up the unwary. Sharp-angled architectural shapes emerge. Are the yellow rectangles cheeerful banners or a cable car ready to whisk you off to a Sci Fi reality?

The title of the exhibition What's He Building out There? is a reference to Tom Wait's song in which the question is never answered, but the implication is that whatever is being constructed is menacing, perhaps even murderous.It's an intriguing title but it's as if  these paintings and sculptures are not tied down to a single mood or narrative or conclusion. They are layered with snatches of conversation. In this exquisite painting Tunnell II (Charcoal and pastel on paper on MDF,140cm h x 200cm w), it takes time to be at first distracted, then amused and delighted by tiny out-of-scale cameos: buildings, turrets, quays, each a perfect picture but in a preposturous place. If the  paintings and sculptures of this exhibition suggest a post- apocalyptic world, I can think of worse scenarios.


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