Linda Aloysius

Bird, 2011 Mixed Media

"Aloysius’ semi-figurative works often wear tattered old garments that gesture towards notions of feminine identity – the eternal bride, the old bird, the painted lady. We might quickly surmise that they are a riposte to the cock-sure monumentalism of sculptures hewn and erected by men: all those giant embodiments of machismo that populate our plazas and museums are rendered absurd, faltering, unbalanced. Their subversive intelligence chips away at a more recent layer of art history too: they stand in contrapuntal relationship to the virile residues of (mostly male) postminimal artists from the 1970s onwards. In the works before you, the scattering and binding of materials speaks not of testosterone-fuelled action (as it often did to an earlier generation), but of a compulsion to use extant objects as queues for new forms. It is action born of responsibility, desire and attentiveness.

Doubt is a generative force, and it unravels these objects quickly. They look like figures, but are they not also in many ways abstract? Are those scrubby dabs of paint part of the found objects or later additions? What is the significance of Aloysius’ observations and engagements with the built environment and its detritus? Is that rip, that rupture, not somewhat obscene? Named after terms for women in boorish everyday language – Bird, Bag, Angel – they live up to their names by donning garbs of grubby silk voile, concrete ballet shoes and broken tiaras. If monumentalism and masculine sculpture is inverted here, so too are these wearisome clichés of femininity. Such a concatenation pre-empts deeply embedded ways of looking: the anthropomorphic eye that makes abstract forms human, and the priapic eye that objectifies life.

Jean-François Lyotard once remarked that, “What cannot be tamed is art as silence.” In their quest to wriggle free from easy definitions, Aloysius’ works suggest themselves to us as unmediated materials. They engage with the concreteness of language, stripping it of its symbolism to locate what might be called its pre-linguistic modus operandi. To pin them down, I would need to resort to endless clauses: ‘but’, ‘although’, ‘nevertheless’. And so, I find myself writing a text not so much about objects as the ghost of language. These sculptures locate an anxiety between words and objects, a skirmish that neither can win. How shall we proceed? What I can say, finally, is: be alert to the objects here, for there is more in them than this text can contain.Linda Aloysius is in her final year of a practice led PhD at Goldsmiths College. Her work was selected by Phyllida Barlow for the Creekside Open at APT Gallery, London last year; She also showed in 2011 alongside Matt Calderwood, Angela de la Cruz, Alexis Harding, Ana Prada, Paul Harrison and John Wood. Other recent exhibitions include at Sir John Soane’s Museum, London and the Centre for Contemporary Culture, Barcelona."

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