Curve of a Hill... @ Mary Mary
The left hand of a black glove greets you as you enter the newest exhibition at Mary Mary. Speckled with white acrylic, the glove could have been plucked from the artist’s, Amanda Ross-Ho’s, studio – if it wasn’t the height of a human. Judith Hopf’s serpent is next. Its slither is disguised as an angle of concrete, and it teases with a waggle of a newspaper tongue. Curve of a hill like the curve of a green shoulder draws a slapstick giggle.
Like Amanda Ross-Ho’s glove, Erika Vogt’s machéd knives are inflated for cartoon effect. Any threat of attack is offset by their pastel colouring, and the knives loiter placidly along the walls of the gallery. Mary Heilmann’s furniture set uses similar hues: baby blue and pink chairs are tucked against a mint green table.
The exhibition stands between irony, and meaning held, reticently, in reserve. Serious themes are explored alongside light laughs. Take, for instance, the title of the show, which seems borrowed from a stanza of thoughtful imagist poetry. HD’s poem Oread, or even William Carlos Williams’ Flowers by the Sea’ spring to mind.
This is most the case in Aleana Egan’s work, which looks to modernist writing and is interested in their weighty themes of time and memory, and describes intangible experience. Egan’s exhibit entitled small waves go back on themselves is particularly well considered. Recalling Sara Barker’s recent show at Fruitmarket, the piece uses painted cardboard to delineate space and recall the character of a wave’s swell, swash and backwash.
The pairing of these themes isn’t totally convincing, and each is impeded by the other. To use the chosen rhetorical trope of the show, Curve of a hill like the curve of a green shoulder draws together two images, and its simile doesn’t sit quite right.