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Bruce Ingram

Vitrine, London, UK

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In an interview with T.S. Eliot, Donald Hall once asked ‘Do you have any unfinished poems that you look at occasionally?’, to which Eliot replied ‘I haven’t much in that way, no. As a rule, with me an unfinished thing is a thing that might as well be rubbed out. It’s better, if there’s something good in it that I might make use of elsewhere, to leave it at the back of my mind than on paper in a drawer. If I leave it in a drawer it remains the same thing but if it’s in the memory it becomes transformed into something else.’

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It’s a quote that finds consensus in ‘Arrangements’, a solo show by Bruce Ingram at Vitrine Bermondsey Street. The exhibition centres around three bodies of work: small- and large-scale collage and sculpture. Ingram’s passion is for the unfinished, items that should, by right, be rubbed out: cleaning cloths, cable ties, safety pins, kebab sticks. Characterized by disposability, these found objects are included in what the artist terms the ‘spin cycle’ of his process; rather than packing them away in drawers, they are left out on the studio floor ready to take on alternative identities.

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Ingram, like Eliot, believes in creative recycling. Unfinished things are transformed via new partnerships and contexts, becoming invested with new meanings and occupying a different space in the viewer’s mind. From a wasteland of unfulfilled potential, each object is crafted, piled, stacked and arranged in new ways. There is a randomness to the creation of these new forms. In Arc (all works 2012), a plaster cast of a fennel bulb is arranged with a wooden ball, armature wire, four plaster discs, graphite, a twig, electrical tape and yarn. The juxtapositions build towards the formation of visual patterns and are given a sense of unity through spray painting in hues of grey, cream and shades of pale pastel. There is an instinctive harmony and sense of balance in sculptures that at their very core are reconfigurations of disparate and fragmentary elements.

There is, too, a preciousness invested in these humble items. A geometric pattern in a cleaning cloth elevates it beyond mere domestic drudgery: cast fruit is pampered, wrapped and padded. In Fall, torn strips of T-shirt are held up with wire and supported by a pomegranate made up to look like a cannonball. The functional becomes decorative. These are ornaments, small and intimate, and not unlike the Ikebana flower arrangement that has inspired and manifested itself in this body of work.
Through layering, casting and painting, Ingram’s sculptures confound and surprise by rendering familiar objects new and undercutting them with a quiet, muted witticism. A cauliflower is positioned atop two plaster discs in Black Form as if a cherished relic from a bygone age, whilst pomegranate stalks become nipples in Double Unfold. For all of their compositional hybridity the sculptures in particular feel complete, locked in their new arrangements, at once unfinished and finished.

Bianca Brigitte Bonomi


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About this review

Published on 02/12/12
by Bianca Brigitte Bonomi


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