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Review: Matthew Day Jackson – Everything Leads to Another

July 22, 2011

In the run up to its final week, Anne Blood reviews Matthew Day Jackson’s recent body of work on show at Hauser & Wirth, London.

Matthew Day Jackson has remarked that he is interested in the interconnectedness between disparate things,between art history and rap music, for instance, or nuclear testing and paranormal activity; as the title of his current exhibition declares, ‘everything leads to another’. Given Jackson’s stated concern for broad and unexpected relationships, it is hardly surprising that the artist’s current exhibition across both gallery spaces of Hauser & Wirth includes an eclectic range of objects and themes. However the connections which Jackson so eloquently lists unfortunately result in a collection of new works of varying degrees of success.

The artist’s photographs of two life-sized golems – one sweet and one savoury –take the shape of Jackson’s body. Perhaps intended as a clever re-interpretation of Anthony Gormley’s practice of exploring the form and proportions of his own figure, the resulting images draw less attention to the question of form and instead bear closer visual resemblance to a Heston Blumenthal food experiment gone wrong.

The exhibition does, however, find strength with two superb works in the North Gallery, Axis Mundi (2011), a sculpture re-purposing the cockpit of a Boeing B-29, and Reflections of the Sky (2010), a mammoth moonscape. Standing grandly in the centre of the gallery, like a prop left over from a classic science-fiction film, Axis Mundi dominates the space, reflecting everything in its silvery mirror surface. While its shiny form speaks of an unknown future of space-age exploration, the body itself holds a darker past: the B29 aircraft that the structure is fashioned from is the same model that dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Here Jackson’s connection between disparate ideas – the utopian project of space travel and the ultimate devastation of the atomic bomb – express a sort of apocalyptic poetry.

A similar strange elegance is also found in the triptych Reflections of the Sky. Here rendered completely in shades of grey, the surface of the moon takes on the peaceful tranquility of Monet’s waterlily paintings. Jackson describes this work as a meeting of Impressionism and the moon; the harmony in the work is not found in the meeting of these two seemingly disparate subjects but in the common pictorial language of landscape. Although Jackson’s connections may not always form a satisfactory whole, when he unites dissonant tones, he produces a wonderful chord.

Matthew Day Jackson: Everything Leads to Another is at Hauser & Wirth, Savile Row until 30th July 2011.

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