Category Archives: Vilma Gold Gallery

Jennifer West – ‘Heavy Metals: Iron and Zinc’ At Vilma Gold, London

Taking old footage of the film, ‘Jaws’, and a promotional trailer, West superimposes scratchy erasures and layers of erratically applied colour. This process almost eviscerates the underlying celluloid surface but not entirely, as fragments of discernible images and sound occasionally re-emerge to remind the viewer of the film’s original intentions. By deploying diverse materials such as metal compounds, dyes and vitamin residues across the surface of this old footage, West achieves multiple formal effects that resist coherence. The resulting moving image is formless and awkward. A degraded soundtrack accompanies snatches of original narrative so that the two altered films lead the viewer into a destabilizing sensory experience.
The longer film is titled ‘Heavy Metal Sharks Calming Jaws Reversal Film’ which alludes both to the metal degradation of the super-8 film and also to a reported soothing effect of Heavy Metal music on sharks. This strategy of appropriation and manipulation takes us towards a virtual negation of the original source material. Projected from the floor onto the wall, the setting speaks of redundant home entertainment resurrected in West’s blend of anarchic nostalgia, quotation and alteration.
Two further projects adopt a more focused interest in analogue film and its exposure to specific effects. West shoots inside a special chamber at MIT to document the movement of Neutrinos in single image frames that are strung together in sequence. Delicate yellow, green and pink curling lines move across a dark void as the fixed camera traces the trajectory of these tiny particles, invisible to the human eye, which are being orchestrated within an artificial environment. Film here literally offers a new form of vision. In the same gallery ‘Mascara Rorschach Film’ is made by running mascara brushes down the film surface to create a series of flowing shapes reminiscent of the inkblot test in psychology. West again rolls numerous single frames together to animate areas of dark dye that become brightly purple where thinly applied. Firm, parallel brush lines sit beside less rhythmic, darker splashes. Resembling an unfurling Chinese scroll illuminated by inky brushwork or the subjective, urgent marks of Abstract Expressionism, this film is the exhibition’s most successful exploration of the formal and symbolic properties of this increasingly redundant medium.

William Daniels at Vilma Gold

p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal { margin: 0cm 0cm 0.0001pt; font-size: 12pt; font-family: Times; }h1 { margin: 0cm 0cm 0.0001pt; text-align: center; page-break-after: avoid; font-size: 12pt; font-family: Times; text-decoration: underline; font-weight: normal; }div.Section1 { page: Section1; }

As the visitor approaches William Daniels’ 10 new ‘oil on board’ paintings (as yet all untitled), the scale of these works becomes more surprising the closer you reach them. They achieve a disarming physical and visual presence. No picture is larger than 38 centimetres high or 29 centimetres wide,  but any initial, modest impact is radically changed by the exuberant descriptions of colour, tonality and geometry seen by the artist in the folds of crumpled metal foil.
Having previously exhibited paintings of paper maquettes,  inspired by iconic images in art history, Daniels now turns to an investigation of representation in painting. He explores how light operates on the reflective surface of these foil objects, which appear to sit against a backdrop of the same material to enhance the mirroring of ambient light. These ‘formless’ shapes first attract and then return the light in altered, complex patterns. Such closely cropped and intricate paintings invite sustained viewing to comprehend the detail held within them. Fractals of grey and yellow or red and olive meet awkwardly and fight for space. Colour and form are in constant flux producing a hallucinatory effect like staring through a spyhole into a fiery furnace.
Every facet and wrinkle made by compressing the foil sheets into solid, abstract forms is articulated with adroit brushwork;  flatter flecks of colour are separated by raised ridges of paint marking hard edges in the original objects. Daniels’ textured surfaces faithfully express the physicality of the material he studies. This act of turning flat sheets into form cleverly exposes and reverses the traditional act of painting itself, the translation of tangible objects into a two dimensional plane.
In Daniels’ quest for dazzling optical effects, the paintings achieve a theatrical trompe l’oeil character. However,  there is an ambiguous quality about these images, illustrating the curious status of painting itself. Daniels reminds us that painting is a lyrical resemblance,  a dialogue between the ‘real’ and the imaginary, which in this show produces an exhilaratingly giddy experience.