|Marius Granger - Gwymon/Seaweed|
Marius Grainger is a recent graduate of Brighton University, currently living in Cardiff. His solo show Soft opened tonight in the gallery at West Wales School of the Arts in Carmarthen. I first met Marius when I showed work in Milkwood Gallery in Cardiff and he had just completed a residency, Not Drowning, But Waving in the basement space. The work he showed on that occasion was very interesting - slightly unresolved, but imbued with potential.
This selection of work has consolidated that potential into a strong and cohesive show. I particularly liked a series of small, black felt sculptures called Gwymon (Welsh for seaweed). This selection of tiny domestic objects, (chair, book case, bannister rails, globe...) pinned on the wall, are made awkward through the medium of their making. Shown in a continuous line and placed just far enough apart to convey a sense of dislocation and isolation from each other, they are remarkably tender and poignant. Matt black and dense, they absorb light, concentrating overwhelming ideas and emotions about loss and grief into the little, inadequate memories left in the possessions of loved ones. The stuff of life, the objects we choose and gather - left behind us at our death for others to deal with.
The show is divided into distinct halves, the other work shown here is larger scale sculpture. These floor standing pieces humorously reflect upon masculine identity and sexuality, and the art historical traditions and symbolism inherent in the sculptural form. Hard, phallic structures are draped or sewn into soft, floppy fabrics - mostly velvets. The works are sometimes appended to soft furniture - a sofa cushion or an upholstered stool. Grainger says of the work "The phallic sculptures are about illegitimacy, a failure to live up to a particular masculine ideal, or sculptural ideal."
The exhibition title, Soft is beautifully appropriate. Grainger's work talks about inadequacy, the agonising inadequacy we feel in the face of death and sex, the failure and impotence of our power and our ego in front of our passions, our expectations and ultimately our death. It also celebrates the tenderness and gentleness of which we are capable.