That Way and This
This new exhibition by Susan Collis contains three works touching on thwarted intention, where the physical flaws or material shortcomings of their construction become the show's focus.
Collis visited the Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow in order to document Black Suprematic Square (1915) by Malevich, one of four versions he produced. Her resulting work is a one-to-one scale pencil drawing that delineates the painting's heavily fractured surface. Black Suprematic Square was a work intentionally about a zero of form and representation but has since been inadvertently undermined by the lattice of cracks that time has imposed upon it.
Bespoke (2012) is an arrangement of items against a wall, covered in black splash marks, a now familiar motif within Collis' practice. The work is a jigsaw of separately produced goods, that when aligned, demonstrate a coherent unifying mark across their surface. The production of the mark-bearing materials has been broken down into several small commissions, produced by commercial manufacturers ranging from small-scale designer-makers to large industrial companies. The firm, Formica, has produced two custom laminates, variants of their County Cherry and Classic Walnut that are interrupted by black drips and splashes. Collis commissioned a hand woven herringbone Tweed to resemble the grey packing blanket used by art handlers, with flecks of colour inserted into the fabric. The black splash is woven into the sheet, and continues from the printed vinyl wall banner, over veneered boards, to a screen printed dust-sheet and hand glazed ceramic tiles below.
The final component is a large structure that appears to be shoring up one of the gallery walls. The leaning beam, though reminiscent of some sort of architectural support, is covered in hundreds of small sea-shells, arranged in patterns and painted. Using shells Collis has employed a material with connotations of the hobbyist, likely to be used by a child in a collage. The patterned shells are consciously graceless, rendering the beam not just structurally redundant but also decoratively abhorrent.
Susan Collis is currently on show at Honigbrot, Cologne, and will be showing at Lifelike, New Orleans Museum of Art from 11th November 2012.