Event review: Peaks & Troughs at TURF Projects

By - Wednesday 25th October, 2017

Neon, glass and recycled metal prove a timely comment on our city – and on gender stereotypes

Photo by Tim Bowditch, used with permission.

On first glance, Peaks & Troughs seems like a series of abstract and bizarre sculptures. However, look a little closer, and human figures and shapes start to jump out. Black mould becomes a cross section of a brain, white glass a set of teeth, red and brown lumps behind metal become organs crammed and constrained by a rib cage. The colourful neon squiggles on the back wall become graphs depicting London’s housing crisis, from which the exhibition takes its name.

Far from abstract, Saelia Aparicio’s works are highly figurative ‘psychological portraits’ of London and its crises, as well as of gender stereotypes. All are drawn out to be put on trial and unflinchingly examined. And so are we, as citizens, party to London’s pollution and housing problems, or as perpetuators, wittingly or unwittingly, of gender norms.

Hammering home the themes of the show are its materials, Aparicio making use of found objects, recycled and upcycled, making the show not just about London, but of it. Barriers and metal grids echo tower blocks and flats, occupied by glass tubes, and remind us of the all-too-common sight of unoccupied buildings and houses around our city – and in Croydon. However, the most powerful use of found materials has to be Pompeii. Two crumpled, fractured and broken female figures, curled up on the floor, are cast from sex dolls. The poses are suggestive, rear presenting, but bluntly undercut by the shattered knees, legs twisted at impossible angles, and arms ending in cracked stumps, hands missing. They lie where they fell and one can almost feel the force of the drop, the figures collecting dust and cobwebs.

The exhibition is highly accessible and also artistically literate

Another stand-out piece is Anatomy Of Pleasure. An oval of transparent plastic, on which is laid vibrant, colourful organs, hair, string and gloves, suggests both a full human anatomy and a face; and beneath this sits a pair of clear blue high-heeled shoes, one stuffed, rather uncomfortably, with a masturbator – complete with mouth, tongue and nose. Another graphic depiction of gender stereotyping.

The exhibition is both highly accessible in the raw honesty it brings to its approach, and also artistically literate, with Duchamp-style glass works and found objects, pop items and the surreality of, well, real life combining for a rich visual lexicon. These factors combined ensure Aparicio’s show is well worth a visit, for both the casual passer-by and the art enthusiast.

Peaks & Troughs is exhibiting at TURF Projects, 46-47 Whitgift Centre, until Sunday 12th November 2017.

Fergus Coltsmann

Fergus Coltsmann

"We can't stop here. This is Bat Country!" Like all young journalists, Fergus aspires to be Hunter S. Thompson reborn and The Voice Of His Generation. Unlike most young journalists, Fergus realises that he probably isn't good enough (or bad enough) to be so though. So he writes about art and news and food and stuff he knows a little bit about and likes instead.

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