Brett McMahon’s new exhibition is entitled, Dust. This is a useful title, as it suggests the slow accretion of cast-off natural matter, over time. Dust is the physical evidence of the inexorable disintegration of all things.
Within this exhibition, the artist presents objects and surfaces that are scored, scraped, beaten, creased, distressed, folded, exposed, weathered. We are in the presence of articles that are on the verge of a kind of beautiful collapse - frozen in the moment of their dissolution.
There is an organic consciousness at play everywhere across the works. In all of the pieces, we see Nature’s various rhythms and traces –such as the randomly-formed lines and striations, as they may appear throughout natural formations. There is also, throughout the exhibition, a keen sense of Nature’s implacable, ceaseless march towards chaos and entropy.
We see this powerfully present, for instance, in the physically-scored surfaces of works such as the Traces series, which reveal their battle-scars, sustained as the artist entered the scuffle between structure and non-structure. We also see it in the work, Remnant, which resembles the surface of a charred tree. And we also see it in a ‘found-object’ work, such as State, which is pinned to the wall, taken directly from its other-purposed life in the wild world, and which, in its new context, is perhaps redolent of an aerial view of the planet, or the slapping waves of a midnight ocean.
As in his last exhibition at Blockprojects, the artist deals here with the ‘break- ing down’ of surface elements. But, whereas the previous body of work was predominantly made with high-key colour, this new work is primarily mono- chromatic, which lends a dignified and melancholy tone.
Steve Cox, 2018.