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August 12, 2013 | by  | in Arts Visual Arts |
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Living Space – Simon Morris and Brenda Sullivan

Enjoy, 31 July–24 August

At the risk of undermining my authority as arbiter of taste, I must confess that I only managed to see Simon Morris and Brenda Sullivan’s current collaboration from Enjoy’s foyer. When I showed up, Morris was giving a talk to some of his students, and I didn’t want to interrupt. I have, however, taken time to look at photos of opening night on Facebook and read a pretty detailed press release (in which Enjoy got Simon Morris’s last name wrong, so I guess none of the parties involved are free of fault), so I feel qualified to offer an opinion.

Both artists have produced works that respond directly to the space, in an attempt to engage the viewer in a conversation about the gallery as a structure in flux. Morris has previously employed mathematical formulae in the creation of his work as a means of distancing the hand of the artist from the product. Here, the same systems of precision have been used to create a series of wooden furniture without any waste from the source material. This fact hasn’t been emphasised in a way that would make the work a conservationist piece, but it’s highlighted enough to place the object within a tradition of sculpture as both a refashioning of one object into another and as a process of the removal of excess.

Sullivan has used similar precision to paint directly onto the gallery walls. The tone and position of the paint is a direct response to Morris’s structures. In combination, the works use the familiarity and functionalism of shape and surroundings to alert the viewer to the imperfections within the space. It’s reminiscent of Billy Apple’s Subtraction in its use of the space not necessarily to make a comment, but to plant a seed of awareness in the viewer.

Where Apple’s Subtraction was so perplexing that it was almost necessary to look closer, Living Space is not arresting enough to attract the enquiry it deserves. It’s pleasing enough to look at, but the work seems too comfortable in its place to immediately demand anything from the viewer.

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