Review: Magali Reus at the South London Gallery

Posted by D.R.A.W in Blog

June 2nd 2018

The first major solo exhibition of London-based Dutch artist, Magali Reus – As Mist, Description – was one of very fine detail in sculptural form. Great, meticulous care taken in the making seemed to carry the seeds of an internal anachronism (we think that artisanal care is a thing of the past, not normally applied to contemporary structures/machinery such as these, which were made using elaborate casting and moulding techniques).

Reus is certainly an accomplished maker/artist so it’s a superb show from the ‘making’ point of view, but fails to communicate much, whether intentionally ambiguous or not, visitors didn’t seem to engage with the works or spend more than a few seconds in front of each.

This is a recent (2017) body of work by the Dutch artist, each piece is well spaced out from the others, and devised as if it was seen ‘in progress’ – either mid-activity or abandoned after usage. Vaguely reminiscent of Helen Marten’s work, which equally tends to create sculptural works which draw your gaze in using the power of endless details found in mainly recognisable objects, whose function has been annulled or altered.

We feel the words used by the Guardian’s Chief Culture Writer Charlotte Higgins to describe Marten’s work (in 2016) could be applied to this show: “If you submit yourself to this art – approaching the sculptures like free verse whose meaning you might rather absorb than decode – you realise you are in a place unlike any you’ve entered before, where a distinctive mind has messed with the world of objects and meaning, creating her own strange, compressed archaeology, which you are invited to expand into imaginary life.”

This abstraction ends up taking you to another dimension, but one we feel quite devoid of emotions.