We’re not sure if it’s because we were reading ‘Masochism: Coldness and Cruelty & Venus in Furs’ on the way over to this show or if it actually holds one of the most sadistic collection of images we’ve seen in a long time. Joseph Loughborough’s work has the potential to appear a little too obviously violent, if not housed in the correct space. On the clean white walls of a generic gallery space the rage-filled, spliced up bodies would look far too manic. However the smelly, damp walls of the Old Vic Tunnels, which have been home to some brilliant work of late, suit the dramatised psychotic scribbling perfectly. The exhibition consists of two rooms. The main body of work is shown hung on corrugated metal walls in a room off one of their many dank corridors, the framed neatness of the work in no way detracting from the content, thanks to the set piece of the space. Trains crash by overhead, staircases to the upper decks magnify and bounce around every clunking footstep, and the metal walls suggest entrapment within a shipping crate.
The work itself was made whilst the artist was in “self-imposed exile”, again something that would normally make our toes curl, but that suits the overall spectacle of this show that has been supposedly created by a manic artist. Amongst the tangle of limbs and slashes of charcoal there are some delicately drawn and well proportioned body parts that add a technical brilliance to the impulsive nature of the main body of images, and the obvious nods to Francis Bacon seem well grounded and not desperate copycats. The second room, more dungeon-like than the first, complete with dripping walls and puddles on the floor holds three drawings that are hung directly on the wall that will decay over the duration of the show. Again, this might sound too primal for many tastes, but added to the morbid space, it actually has the effect that similar work has strived for, but failed to reach.
The Old Vic Tunnels have been the stage for many different events over the past year or so, from theatre and talks to art exhibitions, and for this reason the space never feels confined just to the one use. The theatre flows over into art and the art flows over into theatre. This creation of a fully fledged event pulls many of the more absurd pieces out of the realms of the ridiculous and into something genuinely moving, and here as usual the drama in these works is wholly matched by their setting and in turn supported by it. Emotional content, especially with horror aspects can often seem over the top in such a heavily conceptualised and sedated art world, so it’s actually good to see a show that wants to grab the audience by the balls and move them a bit.
Exhibition dates and times:
Saturday, 16 & 23 June – 11am til 4pm
Sunday, 17 & 24 June – 11am til 4pm
Thursday, 21 June – 5pm til 10pm
Admission is free and there is a live drawing session tomorrow (Saturday 16) from noon
For The Old Vic Tunnels [click here]
Words by Emily Steer.