Goldsmiths Curatorial Critique

Paul Fryer: Let There Be More Light

Posted in Reviews by mingjiuntsai on October 29, 2008

Paul Fryer generates a dialogue between God, humanity, science, aesthetic and even the art-market into the Holy Trinity church through his significant solo exhibition ‘Let There Be More Light.’

It’s hard not to notice that the fashionable neon of the exhibition’s title upon the main entrance of the old church is so conflict, which precisely ‘reveals’ that a church is the perfect place for Fryer’s exhibition. There was a time that art is to glorify God as all these remarkable artworks were collected or created in churches. The aesthetic idea gradually changes with the different generations especially with the progress of science. Moreover, the history, which is the result of social activities and consists of humanity, also influences on art and is influenced by scientific technologies. Now, art is everywhere in the market, and then where is the aura of it?

When entering the exhibition site, it might immediately leads you to the title ‘Let there be more light’ because the room is so dark that the viewer can literally see nothing. Instead of trying to get use to the darkness, the viewers automatically move forward to the only light in the centre of the room. That is a delicate sphere that shines attractively pink-purple soft light and spins within a small mysterious universe. This light generates a power of comfort being in the centre and guiding for the audience in this dim space. With the same pretty colour, there is another atmosphere inside the second room, which is also dark. The square object creates streaks rather than simple light via the scientific techniques and creates a different light-attraction in this space.

Walking into the bright nave, you will see a huge well-produced artifact in the shape of a rocket that exhibits across the whole chamber and directs to the altar. There is again the visible electricity moving inside the wooden rocket. And at the sides of it, there are two giant tuning-fork-like sculptures. There is no clue for you to know if Fryer is building any connection between the two still sculptures and the flowing electricity inside the wooden one. However, the interest in the three sculptures may disappear as soon as you see the installation on the altar. On the steps, the figure that has the image of an angel or a demon with wings is trapped by the telegraphic wires and hung in the middle of the air. Is this character the degenerate angel – Lucifer? Like the one who is snared by the irresistible pleasure of technology – telecommunication – is now presented right on the holy nave. The rocket is pointing at him, and the sacred images on the stained glass around the nave are just like looking at the fallen angel or the fatuous person hooked by his abandon.

On the first floor, Fryer shows the audience another spectacle. A line of delicate spheres are made of various colours of wood and constructed into these master craftsmanship pieces. The texture of the work combines an eighteenth century impression and a modern scientific sensation. The spheres are like satellites and produce this wondrous aesthetic between artifact and technology, tradition and modernity. In the other side of this floor, the sculptures made of glass and metal, which is right upon the nave, are shaped as a symbol of religion or an electricity pylon. They seems symbolically connecting the signal from sky/ heaven with the exhibition/ church.

There is a rhythm in the dialogue throughout the exhibition. It seems a cliché to talk about the relation between God, humanity, science and aesthetic, but the viewers maybe hard to forget the echoing image of each work, especially the figure on the altar. You can say the exhibition is merely creating a spectacle with technology, giant objects and unusual models, however you can’t deny the ‘old-fashion’ topic literally produces an impressive sensation. Yet, there is something more about the exhibition related to the time and the site.

The Holy Trinity church is next to the Regent’s Park, where the Frieze Art Fair is held, and Fryer’s exhibition only opens for one week, which is exactly the period that the Frieze Art Fair takes place. Fryer’s intention can be only for convenience; in this period of the how the art-market is significant, people come to the biggest art fair in the country and his exhibition is in the neighbourhood. In terms of the art fair exhibition style, he creates a full chapter for viewers to wander through. The exhibition considers the specific site and time, whereas presents a show that you don’t have to spend a penny to read the immense contents of the works or the exhibition, and there is no one staring at you to see if you are interesting in which particular work. The viewer can simply immerse in artworks rather than bombarded with the art-fest. Wouldn’t it be the light for the art in the present time?


Paul Fryer: Let There Be More Light

Holy Trinity Church

15 – 21 October 2008


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