|The Red Head Gallery is pleased to present You can only get there from here, an exhibition by artist Gillian Iles. You can only get there from here combines environmental-scale painting installations with sculptures and occasional video, creating installations incorporating both real and illusionary space. Altogether it is an accumulation of illusionary structure & form, actual structure and form and temporal structure and form, contextually fusing and blurring the definition of real and illusionary.
Primarily using the figure as a subject, Iles’ work uses hybrid imagery with primary and secondary narratives occurring simultaneously to create multiple narratives that are intentionally discordant, but not unrelated, and serve to directly influence and redirect each other’s interpretation. Areas of investigation are the existence of social ideals, social orders and idealized lifestyles especially as they pertain to Western culture. Their tenuous persistence is of particular interest. Specifically the primal inclination for generational shifts and challenges to these accepted ideals.
You can only get there from here highlights the potential of adolescents as the future agents of change. It is this potential, not the actualization that is portrayed. In this case, the protagonists are outside looking in at the idealizations that simultaneously repel and attract. Each piece’s content combines undeniable allure and simultaneous visceral threat or repulsion. It is this conflict that is captured as a suspended moment of indecision: the primal urge to rebel colliding with the vague notion of desire for that very same thing. The inevitability of change as an innate inclination of all systems is imagined through the selective content as well as with “interruptions”, where discordant media effects ooze through and out of the pieces.
Each generation is predetermined to view with scepticism, the canons, established ideals and accepted codes of the previous generation. This scepticism can manifest itself in a variety of ways, and cannot be predicted. It can range from passive to active, including disbelief, disregard, intolerance and defiance. Most importantly, others can perceive that scepticism as benign, threatening or dangerous. It is that vagary of intent and potential as perceived by the outsider that direct the imagery. Partially obscured identities, the ubiquitous hoodie and selectively cropped views create that opacity of intention.
The work is an examination of ambiguous codes of conduct and burgeoning potentials. The world of youth on the cusp of adolescence is a closed and inaccessible environment of mysterious rituals, customs and codes of behaviour that are unintelligible to outsiders. Sculptural elements have been added which work in tandem with, and react to the paintings, creating a physical void between the subjects and the object of their desire and repulsion. The figures stand tentatively on the cusp of awareness of their potential and the abyss of the adult prerogative.
Image: Gillian Iles, A combination of nerve and wit, 2013.Installation of painting and sculpture. Oil and acrylic on 5 panels, mixed media sculpture. 108 x 116 x 48 inches. Courtesy of artist.