This is the New Facade
Toby Paterson ‘New Façade’, at the CCA Glasgow from 12/04/03 – 25/05/03.
On April 29th at the ICA in London, the winner of Beck’s Futures 2003 was announced from a shortlist of British artists chosen to represent “Tomorrow’s Talent Today”. As the visitors arrive to see the work of Rosalind Nashashibi and her peers, the doors will also be open at the CCA, Glasgow’s Centre for Contemporary Arts, for New Façade, the first solo major show by Beck’s Futures 2002 winner, fellow Glasgow-based artist, Toby Paterson.
The work, an ambitious three-room installation in the recently refurbished, lottery-funded CCA, reflects concerns broached in ‘We Fall into Patterns Quickly’, Paterson’s 2002 Beck’s submission, though his new work feels infinitely more substantial. New Façade, while holding the weight and scope which has already distinguished its maker, also succeeds in implying an ongoing process of research and experimentation which is still flexible, discursive and very much in evidence.
Galleries CCA2 and CCA3 house the bulk of the exhibition, which unfolds surprisingly organically as the viewer enters the space. Both rooms integrate large-scale wall paintings with smaller structured paintings and drawings on wall-mounted Perspex as Paterson explores his concerns – a methodology which seems gracefully appropriate to his particular discussion of architectural innovation. The first room economically circumnavigates the work of Glasgow based architects Gillespie, Kid, and Coia through Paterson’s series of sensitively wrought Perspex and paint drawings which isolate and redefine their architectural details. CCA3 is a far bolder, though still tightly controlled, exploration of ideologically utopian architecture in London and Poland, and here we find, alongside the wall paintings and Perspex, that Paterson widens his vocabulary to include a sculptural exploration of the same ideas and information. The rooms work well in relation to one another - Paterson’s refined pallet, together with his ability to compose the work spatially as well as intellectually, allow the exhibition to convey a warmth and accessibility that its potentially dry subject matter might otherwise proscribe. Precision has taken the place of minimalism, and the sheer amount of work in evidence indicates a generosity which is, in the most part, as refreshing as it is satisfying to encounter.
Although the large concrete wall structure in CCA1 does not feel as resolved (as with some of Patterson’s other sculptural work, it does not convince as a language which the artist is as adept in using yet), it does serve to illustrate the qualities palpable in the rest of the show. The implicit attitudinal lift is less evident within the concrete form, and in consequence, it feels hesitant in a way that the fragile lines of his painted surfaces do not. It is precisely the freshness found within the other installations that seems so significant to an understanding of the rest of his practice. Only 29, the artist is younger than the slide of structural ideals that he discusses - ideals which, in discourse and practice, have decayed with such cynicism. The timbre of questioning perhaps therefore seems as much of the gulf between aspiration and construction as of the modernist concrete markers which he uses to exemplify it. Paterson succeeds, however, in articulating more than simply an informed testimony to the cheapening of dreams through cut-price solidification; the work functions as an essay rather than a statement – a discussion rather than a review.
New Façade works best perhaps, as a synthesis of Paterson’s research, discussion and generation, an invitation described as an exhibition. The work is not perfect, but it is ambitious, something greatly to be prized, and where perhaps it shares a commonality with Nashishibi. It is a credit to the Beck’s selectors that such seriousness may be applauded.