MATT O'DELL LIVING SYSTEMS & THOMAS LANGLEY: MEGA ALRIGHT PART II
This body of work focuses on relationships between architecture, nature, and simulated environments. The three works displayed in the exhibition are unified by their medium, concrete. Fundamental to O’dell’s work is the practice of repetition constructing and casting repeated forms, often thousands of times. The sculptures dictate their own form, as if the natural element has its own predetermined ordering system.
Rooted in O’dell’s work is the comparison to brutalist housing communities, futurist city planning, and post-apocalyptic societies. O’dell has a fascination with alternative societies, such as Arcosanti in Arizona, USA, and failed visionary architecture. Read in this context, the scope of the structures becomes on one hand aspirational, akin to buildings dreamt up by the Futurist architects, but also feels like failed and deserted utopian visions.
This is replicated in Empire (flag with a hole), a free-standing sculpture. In this work the building is abandoned, and the flags have had their logos cut-out, symbolizing a revolution that once may have happened. The floor based sculpture Simulation theory: expanding landscape takes this further, like a virtual terrain from an open world computer game (such as Minecraft), this simulated environment again seems to be without control, as if its size and scope could grow forever, a self-generating architectural landscape.
In the large wall based work titled Forbidden Archaeology the form is repeated numerous times. Each element has been individually cast in concrete and coloured with pigment, each one unique to the next. Growing out of green leaf-like tiles the stacking system remains organic in its build, like a giant beehive.
Langley’s work dives into the issues of questioning and reflecting on the state of art practice. Often his works are self referential while attempting to approach certain universal truths, the human condition or more specifically the artistic condition.
Langley’s compositions are very matter of fact statements, confronting himself as a maker but also the viewer as result of his making. Using humour though a playful aesthetic Langley pushes social nerves to get his message across. Present in Langley’s work is his own struggle in making mirrored by one’s daily existence. The issues one faces. Langley uses his work as an expression of consciousness spoken through the voice of a universal language.
For this exhibition Langley revisits “Mega Alright” - a working title device for a show prior to Langley’s studies at the Royal Academy of Arts in London. The title itself is contradictory even oxymoronic. Langley holds himself accountable in his making, creating an integrity in contradiction. Fascinated by the juxtaposition between duality and contradiction, Langley strives for a double edged balancing of his works on a level platform. Comfortable with the idea of failure, while ever striving for the new.
This is embodied in the prominent sculpture, Seesaw, filling the gallery space. This instantly recognisable object has been stripped of its function heightening the tension of the work and its balanced state seems to add value to what may be conceived as a leisure object. The sculpture is charged with a representation of a scale of value with the notion of play alongside the need for interconnection or relation between parties.
The negation of this by locking and securing into a fixed position renders the object either defunct or in frozen in flux. The physical nature of the playground is brought into the adult realm through upscaling, the use of raw industrial materials and embellishment through the addition of framed works on paper.
Word play is deeply rooted in Langley’s work, presenting bursts of energy and snippets of the everyday.