Short Suite

An exhibition of Sculpture and Photoworks at Grölle:Pass Projects.
Wuppertal 2016.
 

Keith Bowler - Short Suite

 

Keith Bowler’s Short Suite, a body of eight new sculptures (six of which are being shown at Grölle pass:projects) have come about through the overlapping of several processes. In the first instance the artist has sourced a number of abandoned steel structures originally manufactured as components used in the heating systems of industrial buildings. This waste material’s potential utilisation as sculpture requires, then, an act of recognition on the artist’s part. A second stage involves the reordering of the individual found items, sometimes bolting them together to form double or mirrored structures of a kind that Robert Smithson termed “enantiomorphic” or self-reflexive. Bowler has further developed this reflective aspect by inserting into a number of the pieces subtly positioned mirrors that create intriguing optical effects and spatial illusions. These visual conundrums would not, however, manifest themselves without the artist’s final addition to the sculptures, the inclusion of cold cathode lights, which operate across a range of colours and tints. These inserted lights work in tandem with the mirrors, but also, and importantly as a force in their own right, producing a powerful alteration of the space in which the sculptures are being displayed.

 

These works are then, at one end of their material spectrum, physical, tough and functional, having been purposefully designed as part of a building’s air conditioning system; at the other extreme, however, through his various adjustments and additions, Bowler has directed the viewer’s attention towards the ethereal element of light, to ­­colour, diffusion, and spectatorial drift. One may consequently read these tightly tuned colour emanations as a form of camouflage or critique, a refusal of the dumb functionality of the modern world, or as open signals contingent upon their steel and cold cathode generators but not reducible to them. Bowler, through adding the projection of subtle lighting to these readymade aesthetic forms, has not so much scrambled their conventional sculptural status as played this off against another kind of “aesthetic” experience, that produced via the careful manipulation of light. 

 

Bowler’s work alludes to, and is in dialogue with several recent and contemporary sculptural trajectories. These include the Minimalism of Donald Judd and Robert Morris, but also the structural iridescence of Dan Flavin, James Turrell and Brian Eno. In Short Suite several areas of artistic engagement combine to make something of far greater resonance than the works’ individual component parts. Light and grey metal appear to change places, the resilient resolution of galvanised steel gives way to the placid expansiveness of light, which then in turn acts as a filter or container for the geometric half-solids from out of which the light itself has emerged. This complex, recursive loop affords an extremely productive experience for the seriously-engaged viewer of Short Suite.   

 

Peter Suchin

Wuppertal, 2016­