Jim Lambie’s latest solo show ‘Buttercup’ is open now to view at The Modern Institute‘s Aird’s Lane gallery, and on its website in an online viewing room. It is so good to be inside a gallery again in person, and particularly to see this show. Jim Lambie has mounted major exhibitions of his work across the world in recent years and here he is back in his home city again.
Lambie’s floor-covering piece ‘Zobop (Wildflower)’ is bright, colourful and cheerful. Taking into account the show’s title, the floor might be seen as a whole meadow of buttercups, emulated in concentric lines of vinyl tape in a colour palette of sunshine yellows plus chrome, black and white. It extends across all of the gallery floor, and it is mesmerising. The ‘Zobop‘ design is configured to follow the gallery’s floor plan shape, and the execution is immaculate.
The ‘Zobop’ floor anchors the whole installation, and this has been Lambie’s signature feature throughout many shows over the years, beginning in Glasgow back in 1999. The main high single-volume gallery at Aird’s Lane has large skylit areas, providing abundant daylighting of the bright reflective floor. It’s a pleasure to walk around and consider the dynamic design from many viewpoints.
‘Pink Moon’ is a vibrant high-gloss pink panelled door with horizontal ‘folds’ leaning against the white wall, with an apparent luminous yellow back light washing the wall behind and spilling around its edges, inviting the viewer to consider where that reflected yellow light is coming from. The door leaf has mirrored edges to further lighten its appearance. A ‘folded’ door has been a component the artist has presented in different profiles over a number of years – an everyday object modified in an unexpected way.
A dark stripped-down wood display cabinet with cabriole legs, seen against the wall and floating above the floor is titled ‘Wood Beez’. A railway sleeper floats within and through the cabinet, each piece gliding independently of the other, emphasising the combination of these two wooden elements and the contrast between the refined cabinet making against the visually heavy squared-off lumber sleeper.
Also in the main gallery space, ‘Butterfly (Belladonna Lily)’ sits on a plexiglass plinth so transparent that the butterfly looks to be fluttering free above the meadow ground, with reflective surfaces on the outside and multiple bright coloured sandwich layers within.
A wall-mounted piece titled ‘Solarize’ is a highlight, made up of many different brightly coloured sunglass lenses, all joined by lead came into one organic grouping. Again this piece is beautifully crafted, and seen from some distance it looks almost like the canopy of leaves of an ornamental tree, or perhaps a constellation. The piece is held just a short distance off the wall surface to allow light through and offers interesting reflections of the surrounding gallery space in the reflective surfaces of the lenses.
‘Horizon (Goldfinch)’ is also wall-mounted, comprising a group of six undulating rectangular panels, spray painted with automotive paint in carefully graduated muted and calm colours. Moving to view at a different position, the colours appear iridescent, and on close viewing, the panel surfaces are seen to be covered with found jigsaw puzzle pieces, altering our usual understanding of jigsaws as pictorial.
‘Butterfly (Green Rose)’ floats on a plexiglass plinth in the second smaller gallery space, carefully positioned to provide a line of sight from the passage connecting the three gallery spaces. The ‘Zobop’ floor pattern extends into this space too.
In the adjoining smaller Bricks Space gallery is ‘Self Portrait (in Seven Parts)’, a video installation of seven monitor screens in a horizontal line, each one displaying changing flat colours, looking something like a colour chart. This is interrupted at short intervals by video footage of the artist appearing on the various screens at random intervals. He very quickly disappears from view again by covering the monitor screen from within with spray can paint. His idea in this self-portrait is perhaps to say ‘see my work, don’t see me’?
Lambie takes items from the everyday world and presents them to us in unexpected joyful modified forms and settings, and he creates skilful illusions. Here we have bright colours, geometric pattern, light reflections and visions of a sunlit buttercup meadow. A happy viewing experience, in some part because it’s a first time back in a gallery for a while, but mainly because this is an entertaining and thought-provoking exhibition.
Covid-19 precautions are in place for visiting, in accordance with current guidelines: providing contact details for track-and-trace, hand-sanitising and wearing of face masks are required. There is a limit to visitor capacity in the gallery.
All photos courtesy of the Artist and The Modern Institute/Toby Webster Ltd, Glasgow. Photos: Patrick Jameson
With grateful thanks to Gordon Reid for this review.