Cell Project Space, London, 30 June to 31 July 2011
The group show ‘Rain’, curated by artist Nicolas Deshayes is, on the surface, made up of the same slick, post-minimal cool that was flaunted to the point of implosion in the recent V22 Young London show. But despite sharing some of the same line-up, ‘Rain’ retains what that show lacked: a critical argument and a sense of direction. The text generated around ‘Rain’ would have us believe that that argument is centred on the ambiguous attraction of contemporary mass-produced materials, and on the theme of water and its reflective gleam as the central textural metaphor. The works by the eight artists gathered here, for the most part sculptural, do all involve the arrangement of mechanical and digitally produced artefacts. The titular lead image or images for the show, though, are three images of rain falling on the ground from different directions; each frame is doubled to create a six-frame sequence that can be read as a narrative of the rain gradually changing its slanted path. Tom Godfrey’s lithographic comic print Untitled (Rain), 2011, does not have that industrial veneer, but it does make a sombre story out of minimum means. Its emphasis – and as a cipher consequently the exhibition’s emphasis – is not so much the precipitous content but the way that it is made: how framing and contextual repetition manage to create a sense of duration and mood. An unlikely reinforcement comes from the five plastic dustbins suspended from Cell’s ceiling. Matthew Smith’s Word for Pleasure, 2011, hung in two sets that look at first like they are swinging around on an industrial conveyor belt, but they also have a foreboding sense of a military rhythm to their disposition, flying to something like the march of Paul Dukas’s 1897 The Sorcerer’s Apprentice.