James McLardy @ The Duchy

Review by Andrew Cattanach | 10 Sep 2012

James McLardy’s sculptures at The Duchy Gallery in Glasgow are familiar in shape, if not in scale. They resemble pieces of architecture or monuments. One could easily be taken for the corner of an 18th-century neo-classical doorway; another might be the pedestal for a sculpture, cast in black plastic; while yet another is perhaps the backing to some heraldic motif or other.

They are mainly classical in form. That’s to say most of them look like they are in some way inspired by Greek architecture. It’s as though classicism has come back into vogue again, somehow slipping under the radar, as some kind of backlash against the omnivorous postmodern attitude that would have viewed such structures as mere signs of conservative authority.

But despite being neatly arranged, as though conforming to a strict ancient order, McLardy’s sculptures are too small to truly imply classical authority – too colourful and too feminine to boot. They are pastiche, mimicking a given authority and implicitly undermining its integrity.

James McLardy’s sculptures are not what they first seem. At a glance we see an arrangement of forms made from timber, plastic resin, glazed ceramic and bronze. The objects are in fact made from fibreboard, wax, copper leaf and paint – notable for being untraditional and inexpensive, and further undermining the classical presentation.

They are in every way compelling, with the perfect measure of craftsmanship and intrigue, being at the same time both exquisitely made and elegantly indefinable. They are formal sculptures – that is to say abstract – that have come to meet the real world half way, only to recoil again in a gesture of mockery and pastiche. They are cheats, charlatans, fakes, frauds. They are utterly convincing.