Alexander James Wood @ Line Gallery

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Currently on show at SVA’s Line Gallery are Alexander James Wood’s A1 and A0 screen prints. Overwhelming the small exhibition space with their vivid colours and graphic style, it could be easy to overlook the little details that really add depth and character to these pieces, choosing instead to focus on the artist’s skilled craftsmanship and unique aesthetic. But to do that would be to miss out on a vital element of Wood’s work, one that brings to life these evocative images and creates a new participatory role for the viewer.

The water that spills onto the kitchen floor, the gun that lies in the packed suitcase, the overturned chair – these clues add to the overall sense of unease that Wood has cultivated in the stark shadows of his screen prints. The work of Giorgio de Chirico is a clear influence in these pieces with Wood adopting a style similar to that utilised by the Italian artist in his Metaphysical paintings, as well as including direct references to de Chirico’s 1913 work, The Uncertainty of the Poet. Also evocative of 40’s and 50’s film noir (there’s even a nod to Hitchcock’s Rear Window), these individual pieces of work create an engaging narrative, one that evokes suspense and tension, urging the viewer to hunt for clues, to uncover the mystery.

Repetition appears to be a major component within these works. Scenes are reflected either in the same image or within a new print adding a sense of disorientation redolent of the noir genre. However, the most unnerving part of Wood’s work is not that which is present, but the pieces of the puzzle that have been left out. Plates of food are half eaten, plumes of smoke rise from ashtrays, books are discarded on the floor. In all of these images the lack of a physical presence heightens the tension, the suspended activity a clue in itself that the action in these narratives has been driven by a person that potentially lurks in the shadows.

Enhanced rather than marred by the confines of Line Gallery’s exhibition space (which highlights their large dimensions and adds to that overall sense of unease), this series of screen prints establishes Wood as a master of his craft, an artist whose work is both visually engaging and mentally stimulating.

 

 

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