Magazine article Art Monthly

James Ireland: The Difference between Truth and Beauty

Magazine article Art Monthly

James Ireland: The Difference between Truth and Beauty

Article excerpt

f a projects London October 5 to November 17

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

James Ireland's sculptures tackle one of the most traditional subjects of art history: the landscape, through unlikely and unexpected means. Bringing together a minimalist, abstract aesthetic with industrial materials and a few lonely twigs and branches, he is able to convey notions of epic natural phenomena such as mountains, waterfalls or sunsets. These investigations into our contemporary perceptions of nature are a recurring theme in Ireland's work, having arisen as early as his appearance in New Contemporaries in 2000, where he exhibited a series of sculptures that used such incongruous items as buckets, stools and fluorescent tubes to evoke the natural world. However, this latest solo exhibition, his third at f a projects, reveals how refined his art has become since those early sculptures. His work now demonstrates an elegance of line and subtlety of gesture.

In Our Value Destiny Comes To Nothing, (all works 2007), a small branch placed within a glass container becomes a delicate line, almost a brushstroke, which from a distance forms the broad contours of a mountain range. The box is topped by a piece of blue-tinted glass, similarly suggestive of a perfect, cloudless blue sky above. This use of coloured glass is repeated in another of the pieces, There Is A Numbness In Your Heart And It Is Growing, this time conjuring an immaculate sunset. Both these works form a continuation of Ireland's recent commission for the Economist plaza in London, where he created a large-scale sculptural piece, You Mistake My Horror For Love, using multi-coloured Perspex sheets and tree branches to mimic natural phenomena such as sunsets and lakeside views in the heart of the city.

In the other works here, the emphasis seems less on emulating a particular vista and is instead preoccupied by the tension between the artificial and the natural. In Shared Vision this seems especially strained as a wishbone-shaped twig appears to be valiantly performing the epic task of holding two steel ellipses apart. The final works, Related Field and Special Relationship, similarly show nature, represented by the twigs and branches, poised in a fine balance with the steel constructions. …

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