Anna Barriball @ Fruitmarket
The work of Anna Barriball smudges the lines of traditional art disciplines; simultaneously both drawing and sculpture, hers is a practice that occupies an endlessly intriguing fault line between the two- and the three- dimensional realms.
Taking architectural detailing – a bubbled glass window, a bricked-in alcove, a door – as her source material, Barriball produces rubbings using graphite, overloading paper with so much metallic powder it takes on the three dimensional moulding of the original to create a physical portrait. Hers is a labour-intensive, repetitive process that could bleed into the world of performance.
In the downstairs gallery, her rubbing-drawing of a door is particularly effective. Float mounted in a large white frame and propped against the wall, the piece proudly displays its fragile material, yet alludes to its three dimensional doppelgänger. Elsewhere, a tracing of a mottled glass window is so palpably textured it seems at first glance to be a slice of moulded styrofoam.
Off the main gallery, Barriball creates a masterful piece of trompe l'oeil. At first glance it seems a complex mechanical work has been installed, an angular beast that rustles and growls in the centre of the facing wall. Second glance reveals this to be a tracing paper-covered fireplace, noise and movement caused by the draught flowing up and down the chimney flues. Third glance (for the worryingly slow to catch on, i.e. this reviewer) reveals the whole thing to be entirely illusory, a DVD projection on a wall.
Upstairs the silver ink tracings of Mirror Window Wall I-IV, a series from 2008, betray the intensity of their production, torn paper disintegrating under the saturation of liquid, mirroring the disintegrating identities of the subject/object/source materials in this ritualistic melding of physical forms. Elsewhere, a perfect graphite wall emerges behind a frame; tubes of thickly graphited paper lean against the wall, transformed into fully fledged sculptural forms by the repeated act of scribbling.
Barriball's investigations of the disciplinary fault lines create transformative works, rendering her something of a magician, as an artist traditionally should be. Using limited materials – paper, pencil, ink – she creates the extraordinary from the very very ordinary. [Rosamund West]