Nick Hackworth

Gary Webb: Deep Heat T-Reg Laguna at Chisenhale Gallery

Essays & Reviews Evening Standard

Gary Webb: Deep Heat T-Reg Laguna Chisenhale Gallery, E3 NOW 31, Gary Webb is a leading exponent of a new sensibility in sculpture that surfaced internationally in the late Nineties. It is a style of work that has critics dusting off the superlatives, for not only does it look contemporary in its visual complexity, using a plethora of materials, from stone to fluorescent PVA, but it is also a textbook example of art for art’s sake. The work is mostly abstract, always bizarre and could not be anything other than art. In his first major UK solo show, Webb presents eight sculptures that appear to be the result of a marathon craft, design and technology lesson fuelled by a large quantity of acid, all weird assemblages of myriad objects, shapes, materials, colours, volumes and sizes. Remarkably, the pieces cohere and achieve a wonderful visual wholeness when they should be awful messes. The Creator Has a Master Plan features a tunnel of rubber-tyre-like forms, lined with multicoloured fabric. This houses an air-conditioning unit which blows air out the back, animating three, trailing, golden flags, mounted on a gun-shaped frame, from which also hangs a large, pink, plastic lozenge. In Mr Miami ,a series of brightly coloured, plastic, rock-shaped forms dangle from a curving tube, at the top of which is a cluster of small, open, glass mouths, replete with small speakers, that burble nonsense all day. Even more remarkably, you can read the works as critiques of our visually overcrowded, over-designed urban world. The Creator Has a Master Plan could be a parody of the macho quest for everslicker aerodynamic forms for fast cars and aeroplanes, while Mr Miami seems like a dig at the inanity of sun-drenched Miami culture. Then again, the sculptures would probably laugh at you if tried to tell them what they meant. So as well as being amusing and visually arresting, Webb’s sculptures also have the disconcerting quality of being, as far as inanimate, abstract assemblages can be, very smug.

Until 12 December. Information: 020 8981 4518.