Galleries - February 2016

FEBRUARY 2016 GALLERIES 45 their key, ‘above the line’ achievements. This takes no account, however, of the less obvious aspects of the work they did, drawing in remarkable amounts of EU and BritishCouncil funding to train young people, not to mention engagement withschool refusers, young offenders, long term offenders and many other similar groups. In a region suffering particularly badly in many of these respects, the Centre offered hope and possibilities of a quite incalculable value. The difference with 2012 however is that, this time around, there really seems to be no rescue on the horizon, short or long term – the place is now closed, (the theatre remains open but for hire only) the staff, trainees et al disbanded, and one of Britain’s oldest art centres – founded as the Fermoy Art Gallery in the 1950s and with a theatre that would seem to have welcomed Shakespeare himself – is simply facing oblivion. Quite why this has been allowed to happen is hard to disentangle though at the core, as so often, it is money – free gallery entry has to be funded somehow. In one of the richest and, apparently, most successful economies in Western Europe, this is a moment for quiet despair. Nicholas Usherwood Objects in boxes can have unexpected powers, a fact that Carlos Cortes exploits in his new exhibition ‘Prospero's Book’ at (Searcys) The Gherkin, organised by GX Gallery – not for the first time in art's history. The majority of the works are small boxes mounted on the walls with hinged lids open like shutters. When considering these 'treasure boxes' it's less instructive to think about each like a Pandora's box than as that box before she had anything to do with it; Cortes appears to be an alarmed god, channelling uncomfortable truths into his small creations. The boxes are crudely made and gazing into them feels like looking into the bottom of an upturned drawer and seeing something unexpected and unnerving. Inside, attenuated figures expressive of a complex psychological state writhe, dance or slouch. Cortes uses characters from literature as well as his own life – hence the show title and reference to Shakespeare’s ‘The Tempest’. As the characters slip from one to the other, there is a fluidity between the subject matter and material. In almost every work, paint illustrates a response to natural defects in the material on which they are composed, with rings and knots highlighted and nails left protruding. The power of the figures' psychological states, the invitation from the hinged lids to handle the objects, and the often subverted literary references, give each of Cortes' works a reach beyond the boundaries of its frame. In the face of its physically restricted space, the work of Joseph Cornell is a useful comparison. Cornell, though often more concerned with the classically beautiful when creating his shadow boxes, had the same knack of evoking worlds beyond the confines of his pieces, and for manipulating the viewer's mood; despite the aesthetic difference in the two artists' work, both have the power of reaching out and creating in the viewer a sense of unease. Frances Allitt This exhibition is viewable strictly by invitation only, please contact GX Gallery on 020 7703 8396 There’s a terrible sense of déjà vu about the shocking news that the King’s Lynn Arts Centre has finally been forced to close. Just three or four years ago a similar threat was finally averted by the decision to go independent of Borough Council support and re-form as a Charitable Trust. Since then the Centre has gone from strength to strength – over 100 (free) exhibitions of both local and international origin, 100,000 visitors to their beautiful exhibition spaces, 95 performances in the historic Guildhall Theatre, and 6,000 attendees for their educational projects have been Desperate measures CODA Confined spaces C arlos Cortes ‘Alonso, King of Naples (He Couldn’t Remember Where He Put All That Money)’ 2015, oil on wood and hinges (Searcys) The Gherkin, organised by GX Gallery