Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Jac Leirner – Add it Up

Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh until October 22nd

Giving up smoking can do weird things to people. Just ask Jac Leirner, the Brazilian artist whose work was first seen at the Fruitmarket in the 2015 group show, Possibilities of the Object: Experiments in Modern and Contemporary Art. Cigarette butts, aeroplane ash-trays and rolling papers are some of the materials used in Leirner's first solo show in Scotland, each lined up and transformed into obsessively regimented arrangements that come on like Joseph Beuys with OCD.

The most striking thing to hit you first, however, is Blue Phase (1991), in which 50,000 obsolete Brazilian bank-notes are laid out on the floor in two rows that snake across each other, graded in a way that focuses on colour rather than monetary worth. Elsewhere, materials from hardware shops are lined up side by side in order of size and colour. Where, on their own, the spirit levels of Levelled Spirit (2017) the cords of 120 Cords (2014) and the rulers of Metal, Wood, Black (2017) might be dismissed as workaday accessories kept at the back of the tool shed, hung side by side they create vivid pictures of a world where everything is in its place and there's a place for everything.

Little Light (2005/2017), which lines up two miles insulated copper wire threaded from the plug, reveals Leirner as a DIY grafter on several levels. There is a self-effacing wit at play too, most apparent in Woman & Man (2014), in which arrangements of ropes and chains serve up a basic biology lesson.

Other source materials aren't initially easy to spot, with the 2,448 white rolling papers of Skin (randy King Size Wired) looking like some retro-futurist wall-hanging, As the tellingly titled The End (2016) transforms a bin full of joint roaches into a criss-crossing mobile, all this looks like aversion therapy on a scale grand enough to prove addictive.

 
The List, July 2017

ends


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