Isabella Widger @ CCA, Glasgow
Literary and historical references come together across imaginative drawings, poetry and theatrical set installation in Isabella Widger's CCA exhibition
Red is the only colour within Widger’s solo exhibition. White walls, midtone grey floor, and flashes of red. It’s in the body suit of the character that spans the different A4 sized drawings. The quick and skilful line describes fear, violence, freneticism, as much as it economically draws place, space, figures.
Across the drawings, the red woman is shown sometimes impossibly contorted, or in anguish, with text above describing 'punitive silence' lasting long 'maudlin hours'. She is in the midst of a bloody murder in another, a giant pen in the heart of the same man that punished her. Alongside the poem, the images make reference to the life of artist Charlotte Salomon, as well as literary references to the likes of James Joyce.
The careful installation comprises 20 drawings, a huge photographic print pasted to the wall, and several sculptures. There is also a poem hanging from the two metal sculptures that look like chair backs. With these modest means, the room is filled and the space is theatrically transformed. The wall shows a small handmade set of a corridor blown up to life-size scale. Three of Widger’s drawings are carefully placed to shimmer in and out of the optical illusion of the hallway.
Among the austere geometry, the flick of Widger’s pen brings dramatic movement to the quiet order of the room. As if starched to the point of absurdity, Widger’s sculpture of shirts are made up of cleverly cut wood pasted together. In one of them, a rogue spattered line of ink runs across some of the buttons. There’s a tension between order and interruption. Fragments of confrontation, violence and tragedy tinge the provisional order of the austere set, allowing for an atmosphere of unease in which layers of intertextual reference shudder against one another.