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Hobson’s Choice: Renee So at Kate MacGarry

17 February 2012 By
Image: Renee So, Bellarmine VIII, 2012, ceramic, 50 x 42.5 x 18 cm. Courtesy Kate MacGarry, London.

Paul Hobson, Director of the Contemporary Art Society, recommends his favourite exhibition of the week.

18 January – 25 February 2012

Kate MacGarry, 27 Old Nichol Street, London E2 7HR

Tuesday – Saturday 10-6pm or by appointment

www.katemacgarry.com

Traditionally Bellarmine was the name we gave to rotund stone vessels made for carrying ale or wine imported from Rhineland, Germany from the 1500’s to the 1700’s.  These vessels supported on them the moulded face of a bearded man or wild man.  There is nothing so very wild about Renee So’s delightful depictions of this character rendered in ceramics and wool which can be found at Kate MacGarry’s gallery at the moment.   Her depictions of these men instead make reference to the toll taken on the wild faces – that, at one point, came growling out of your jug of ale – by mass production, the mask progressively emerging as less individual and frightening and sliding into a set of stylised forms nicknamed the Bellarmine.

Having said this there is something very human about Renee So’s collection of works. The clay sculptures that populate the gallery are friends together in a room, each of them individual but all of them part of the same clan and the woollen works, knitted scenes of their life together.  They are cartoons, just larger than life, rendered in clay and in a rich pallet of dark greys, burnt oranges, golds and blacks.  The bulbous bearded men that populate this show seem so very friendly, one almost imagines them eating figs and playing chequers together when the gallery is closed.  If they spoke, they would have full resounding and richly comforting voices – but quiet ones.

Image: (C) Renee So, Bellarmine VIII, 2012, ceramic, 50 x 42.5 x 18 cm. Courtesy Kate MacGarry, London.

Let us know what you think at membership@contemporaryartsociety.org