One Zero Zero: Alexandra Gribaudi and Theodore Plytas, CBS Studio Blundell Street, until 25th February (by appointment only),
This is an exhibition which left me feeling very happy indeed. It’s only two pieces, but somewhere in those two pieces is a kind of perfection.
Depending on their subject, exhibitions can come together in different ways. Sometimes they might be linked by a title concept (“Chinese contemporary art”), in which case it’s interesting to see different iterations of a broad overall theme. Or else it might be a retrospective of a single artist where although there’s a continuity to the themes and pieces, it’s also inevitable that the artist won’t explore the same themes the whole way through.
With One Zero Zero, though, we find work by two artists working deliberately and entirely in sync. They’ve seen each others’ practices, listened to each other’s ideas. Rather than try to merge them in any conjoining way, they’ve both worked with their own skills to
What exactly are the objects I’m talking about, then? Two spirals: one made of 100 free-cut metal, the other of 100 photograms (a technique where the object is outlined on light-sensitive material, rather than its own image being recorded) of the metal pieces. Both are shaped in an outward-moving spiral, which grows also in terms of component size as it expands.
For a further reading of why they’ve chosen this shape, I eagerly encourage you to pick up the explanatory sheet of paper on your visit. Exhibition introductions can be a mixed bag, but this one is absolutely perfect: poetic, but entirely clear about what One Zero Zero intends. It’s so good that I almost didn’t want to write this, not seeing how I could improve their description of the emotional intentions of the work. But when art makes me feel this delighted, I still want to tell you why.
I think the main word which describes why is balance. One reason for this is simply practical: this new (-ish, but its the first time I’ve visited) home for CBS is high-ceilinged, and both pieces require space to work in. In many other spaces they would be cramped, or could feel cluttered and squashed if surrounded by other artworks. But in this high and clean space, it’s like they have space to breathe, occupying as much as they want. This also gives you, the viewer, space to properly explore the display.
But the sense of balance comes from something else, too. Maybe it’s the juxtaposition between the perfectly even spirals and the jagged roughness of the metal from which they’re made. Or maybe it’s the pairing of a view of the same shape from two angles and getting a sense of its full form. Or the way the shapes of the individual pieces feel very alive: in the photogram, they almost appear as birds, flocking for a purpose. Yet they sit so still – alive, but in command of their space.
Whatever it is, it feels like they truly belong together. It’s a sense which I find extremely hard to describe, actually – the way you sometimes see things and just know that they fit. I think other people have this sense with fashion, or home design, or perhaps even theoretical science. I get it with art sometimes, the sense that an artwork is exactly the way it should be. It’s a wonderful feeling, and this really does have it in spades.
This show brought a period of harmony into what was a horrible, rainy, windy Saturday. I know that with ‘by appointment only’ exhibitions there can be a tendency to not make an appointment unless you’re absolutely set on seeing it, but the impact of this show makes it one absolutely worth signing up for.