BY Ross Sinclair in Reviews | 05 MAY 99
Featured in
Issue 46

Jim Lambie

BY Ross Sinclair in Reviews | 05 MAY 99

There used to be a rumour that Lambie covered his flat in tin-foil, like a DIY domestic version of Warhol's factory. But it wasn't him, it was his flatmate Joogs, who was in Primal Scream. Lambie too, is involved in music. He played xylophone in a proto version of Teenage Fanclub and is currently co-ordinating the visuals for soon-to-be-huge Glasgow music club survivors Superstar.

When everyone else was going to art school, Lambie didn't. But he was always around, at every party you were ever at. He finally succumbed to education five years later. Lambie doesn't talk about art in the same way as the rest of us. He wants to know why 'I could do that' is the most predictable slur the public can hurl at art when it's the foundation of all music from Elvis to bedroom techno: here's one chord, here's another, there's a third - now form a band. In short, Lambie's angle is absent-minded phone-pad doodling, let loose in glorious 5D.

His first solo show, 'Voidoid', consists of four pieces. A poster Earth, Wind and Fire (1999) is pinned to the gallery wall, with the outline of the band carefully filled in with some muddy kind of paint. Psychedelic Soul Stick (1999) a twig with a sock wound around it, leans casually against the wall, wrapped with thousands of pieces of coloured thread. A video, Ultra Low (1998), in the pitch-black basement shows the fragile firefly flickerings of a room full of people smoking, filmed in the dark. Nothing is visible except for the silent ghosts of a blackout party. Slowly you begin to realise that the fags are all illuminating at the same time. The image is constructed from 20 overlaid shots of Lambie sitting in a chair smoking a whole packet of Silk Cut. A complex map of the casual movements your arms and head make while your mind wanders, the video is like a witty mélange of Modernism and social anthropology - Richter versus Nauman, if you will.

Lambie's works are often influenced by arbitrary edges and borders. In this show, the psychedelic anarchy of the floor is created by faithful rendering the minute architectural details of the edge of the gallery, door frames and pillars as they flow ever inwards, like the circle of ripples from a pebble, but in reverse. The lysergic floorboard alterations in the main space engulf the whole room, propelling it down into the spinning vortex created by the tens of thousands of coloured stripes that emanate from the gallery walls.

Lambie is big on transporting the viewer into seemingly unimaginable spaces, yet his work is often generated from the everyday. Out of context, most of his objects look as if they were made on the kitchen table, but when you see them in a gallery, they appear to be transported from another plane of consciousness. His is the kind of work that sounds like shit when you describe it, but explodes into life when you experience it first hand.

Lambie shares something with Tobias Rehberger: the art they make needs people in order to function. Sometimes it's just an excuse for a party, or maybe it only seems that way because they make it look easy. So pop out for some fags, stick the kettle on, sit back and enjoy the refreshing taste of Lambie. As he himself would say 'fuckin' hectic... man'.