Television, Sadie Coles HQ
When you’ve hit your fourth solo show with your London gallery and have one of the most envied CVs in the art world, there is a giant spotlight on whatever you do next. But Jim Lambie seldom fails to impress, recycling ideas and materials to full effect. In fact along with gallery mate Sarah Lucas, Lambie is one of those rare artists who can turn inanimate found objects into art and make it look easy, formally elegant and thought provoking.
Television is centred around a version of ‘ The Strokes’, a floor painting made from strips of glossy vinyl tape. The orange and pink tape is placed in small areas of concentric swirling lines that navigate the entire gallery floor, travel down the stairs and continue into the basement area. At strategic points concrete blocks are placed around the space, apparently semi-grounded into the floor. There are also a number of wall based works comprising of black and white portraits covered in collaged owers while others combine cracked mirror glass and cut out reproductions of eyes. The concrete set against the psychedelic stripes and fractured glass lends an apocalyptic edge that is darker than Lambie’s usual upbeat installations.

Jim Lambie, Gypsy (Stevie Nicks) (2008) ©  The artist and courtesy Sadie Coles HQ, London

Jim Lambie, Gypsy (Stevie Nicks) (2008) © The artist and courtesy Sadie Coles HQ, London

The ‘portraits’ of a young Stevie Nicks and Bob Dylan combine a modern idea of portraiture – enlarging a photographic image – with traditionally made flower painting. The heavy collage obscures the stark black and white photograph and makes the final ‘painting’ seem intentionally artificial and soulless. At first it feels like Lambie is commenting on the inherently transient nature of the music industry; over- decorating an already idealised view of these musicians. But despite the pretty faces, flowers and colours, these portraits appear without expression or sentiment. Lambie’s work has always been more than an homage to the music and musicians he’s referenced and it’s never really felt like his art is about music. Clearly he does borrow an aesthetic and sensibility attached to a particular dirty, druggy guitar scene – which he himself existed in pre art school – but what makes Lambie’s work continue to be interesting is that he uses these references without relying on them to dictate or provide a meaning. Using vinyl records, belts, magazine reproductions and song titles, rather than traditional artists’ materials injects a pop edge without overpowering the formal quality of the final work.

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