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Jonathan Owen - Ingleby Gallery, Edinburgh until May 14th

4 stars
The nutcracker suite of small carved figures that form the modest
centrepiece of Jonathan Owen's discreet boudoir of a show appear to be
hiding from themselves. The top half of one's head is a fragile cage
with a perfectly centred nut where the brain should be. Another nut,
this time on a chain, fills the gaping and grotesque mouth of another.
Tucked away behind closed doors, a dandified figurine resembles a
regency-based Airfix constriction kit reimagined by Dali.

The three works on paper come equally disguised, as vintage photographs
of civic monuments in city parks have their focal points partially
erased, so all that's left are disembodied stone feet standing proud
against the trees. In another, hands cling to tree-top branches as of
some beast with five fingers had found a nest-egg. By rubbing out
what's topographically real, there's a sense of eerie nostalgia and
hauntological hide and seek at play as the past is manipulated by
ghosts in the machine in a beguilingly metaphysical set of works.

The List, April 2011

ends

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