Bojan Šarčević has a way with exhibition titles. ‘Spirit of Versatility & Inclusiveness’ was the name of one, in 2002; ‘To what extent should an artist understand the implications of his or her findings?’ another, in 2006. This latter conjecture conveys the fluid and open-ended character of Šarčević’s current exhibition at BQ, this time titled ‘In The Rear View Mirror’. Views captured in a rear view mirror reflect a pivotal moment between past and future; they give us a refracted, cropped version of the past, as seen from the axis of the present, while moving swiftly into the future. Through a subtle process of cross-reference and accumulation, the elements of this exhibition gradually cohered through time, materials, form and place.
The starting point was silicone, that fleshy, transmutable substance, introduced in a pair of large photographs of someone’s fingers grasping a lump of the material. These pictures were affixed to a white lattice covering the wall, a structure that functions as a recurring display device for more photographs, as well as sculptures dangling from delicate chains. Other forms and materials reappeared, eliciting a sense of déjà vu as you followed the show’s implied course. A sagging pile of small silicone pentagons propped up on the corner of a screen-like sculpture corresponded with an imposing wall made of the same pentagons, this time large, grey and Styrofoam. A trio of the ambiguous screens, made from pink urethane with transparent muslin inserts, cropped up again in a pair of photographs depicting Šarčević’s show of the same title last year at Pinksummer gallery in Genoa, and then appeared in wood in the following room.
Like a treasure hunt, scattered clues eventually cohered, but not into a discernable narrative logic. Instead, a material logic was implied: a fragile and temporary cohesion arrived at through perception and experience. These connections relate to thinking and making – the delicate processes involved in turning an idea into an object and extracting a new thought from that object. There is no end to these processes, this exhibition implies; works and ideas aren’t ever finished, they simply feed back into the same loop.
A denouement of sorts occured in the gallery’s final two rooms. Firstly, in a collection of elements on a plinth that seems to present the source materials for the works: a pink silicone ellipse of a prosthetic breast lying on a folded swatch of brilliant blue fabric; an arrangement of the small tessellated pentagons made from pink foam; and a plaster model of a little hut, its walls and roof constructed from the same tessellated modules. These core elements suggest various themes and attributes: shelter, clothing, bodies, skins, patterns, something vaguely sexual. Further on in the final room this was made explicit in a photograph of a man seen from behind, naked from the waist up, with a pink prosthetic breast attached to his back. The picture was taken in the artist’s studio (but it is not of the artist), and some of the exhibited works appear in the background. It is the only work in the show with a title: Man-Mother (2014).
On the way out, with this provocative image and oxymoronic title in mind, an un-gendered softness and underlying sensuality seems to ooze to the forefront. A departure for Šarčević from recent, sparer exhibitions featuring either large-scale, monolithic onyx sculptures, or slight conceptual gestures, this show felt like evidence of a return to the studio, and the slow concentration involved in working in one place, undistracted by anything beyond the mind’s refractions in the rear view mirror.