Galleries - July 2010

11. GALLERIES JULY 10 T RIPLE VISION MONKS More than anything else John Monks’ recent oils ( Long and Ryle ) give the sensation of time passing. There is an awareness of intrigue and the physical time built into their making. He describes how the sometimes frustrating – even infuriating – process of mak- ing them can reveal deeply sub- merged things. “You have an idea, but what you actually make often goes into a different direction, so that what you make is something new when those processes come together successfully.” The energy needed to resolve this conflict en- dows Monks’ works with a power- ful emotional thrust. His interiors portray just those mysterious “airs, detached from the body of the wind (the house was ramshackle after all) [that] crept round corners and ventured indoors” evoked by Virginia Woolf. Time as an abstraction becomes physically present in big canvases with complex layers, colours and planes. Ghostly lines draw us through doorways to enfilades of empty rooms like stage sets or a cinematic experience in which we enter another dimension in time and space. It is a world both imag- inary and immediately palpable. The application of paint, often by means of a palette knife, gives the pigments a floated-on feeling in which space is both here and not here. C orinna Lotz VAN DER BEEK Entitled ‘Out of Old Mythologies’, sculptor Deborah van der Beek's new exhibition at the Victoria Art Gallery , with its intensely mod- elled bronzes like Ned Kelly or Don Quixote II , does indeed touch on timeless themes, investing her animals and trademark Marini- esque horse-riders with metamor- phic and symbolic richness. She is interested in the victim, the fugi- tive, the outlaw or those sidelined by social norms. The romantic cult of the outsider, however, perti- nently gives way, in Fifth Horse- man or The World Gone Pear- Shaped to still broader generic content – the former a centaur im- pregnated, Paolozzi-style, with collaged detritus (e.g. mobile phones and computer wires), the latter embodying a bite-sized cav- ity. Concerns about pollution and over-population are the implicit themes here. As in the work of Frink, either the male or the forlorn horse, bull or dog dominates; the modelling is, though, almost Giacometti-like in its intensity, the spindly, re- duced forms and craggy, pitted surfaces speaking of ravished vul- nerability, yet at the same time opened up to surrounding space and light. Ambitious and well-in- formed, van der Beek is one to watch as she replaces a pressing post-war existential sensibility with an ecological one. Peter Davies DEL CAMPO Michele del Campo’s light-infused scenes of contemporary life are highly charged. The glamour and charm of his 20-somethings is un- deniable. But there is a sense of disquiet, foreboding and alien- ation in the gilded perfection of face and form in his 'Close Stran- gers' ( Mark Jason ). Del Campo’s flair for the human and its charac- terisation is matched by his ability to suggest a multitude of interpre- tations. His wet-in-wet brushwork is broad and relaxed. It has been suggested that these global youth are simply too perfect, lacking in heart and soul. But the fascinating truth is that 34- year-old del Campo chooses his subjects from chance encounters with individuals on the streets of Barcelona and London. Then his complex process of refinement, photographic studies and careful editing gives rise to works of psy- chological and dramatic complex- ity. Yes, there is something of the impossibly attractive about the beach kids in Angelic Beauty , the long-legged girls in The Consola- tion and the couple in The Coming Storm . But isn’t that just what con- trasts with their sadness and long- ing – a new generation who can- not find fulfilment and comfort? Gorgeousness is offset in one such mood painting by empty cardboard boxes; in others gritty graffiti and brick walls do the job. Corinna Lotz Deborah van der Beek ‘Ned Kelly III’ Michele del Campo ‘Docks’, 2009 John Monks ‘House II’