Conor Kelly @ Queenspark Railway Club

Glasgow-based painter and installation artist creates an elegantly cluttered meditation on art-making as a parent and a middle-managed employee.

Review by Adam Benmakhlouf | 24 Feb 2017

A patiently glazed oil painting of monkeys is in each room of Conor Kelly’s Daddy in the Algorithm, shining in evidence of their old school technique – Kelly often spends years on a single painting. Next to these wrought works, there are the remaining stains from the opening night that have been left at Kelly’s instruction. Referencing his children in some works, there’s a resistance of clean finish in favour of messy autobiography, keeling over into everyday stains and clutter.

Progressing through the installation, green’s made to signify at moments coolness, then depth and a kind of mossy corporeality, or the brightness of chroma key. When it’s juxtaposed with the mottled wine stains, as the stretched felt of a deadpan inclusion of a notice board, it’s an orderly contrast. But looking above the fabric, in another piece the paint is trapped still wet under plastic sheeting. At once, the palette suggests a unifying motif, but then fragments.

Over the course of its run, the show’s been moved around in places. One work moves to the floor, a chair is shifted, a canvas wall was burst then set back in place. That first work mentioned, a canvas coated in green oil paint and body hair, is taken from what was a busy wall, then placed under a bag with ‘where d’ya get that body’ written in splashy, excited gold ink. It’s difficult not to see this as a single work, falsifying or frustrating Kelly’s attempt to create a single installation.

The arts and craft architecture of Queens Park Railway Club begins to insist on tableaux and composition with its four walls. Formal order remains insistent, but more complicated when its elements are amassed detritus and garbage – see Kelly’s beard. So it is that the most interesting oscillation – between pushing against then slipping up into an elegantly cohering tastefulness – repeats.

Until 26 Feb