Smorgasbord of art works well in Leamington exhibition

Open 2011, Pump Room gallery, Leamington. On until June 12.

MIXED exhibitions are by their very nature difficult to select, difficult to hang and difficult to take on board especially when, as in the case of the Pump Room gallery’s Open 2011, works in every medium under the sun have been included.

It’s hard to resist the temptation to reach for culinary words like smorgasbord or mezze to describe the overall effect. Mish-mash would be too cruel because there are some convincing demonstrations here of fully committed involvement in media that extend across the board from Julie Messe’s super accurate graphite drawing, Coastal Clutter, to Karen O’Toole’s blurrily fleecy, White Gorilla.

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What this indigestible spread does bring home is the sheer variety of ways of making art that are now considered by artists to be perfectly legitimate and perfectly natural. Kim Lee for instance converts whole books into artworks by sending them skittering along several media borderlines with the deft use of her scissors.

Neil Moore is also at his skilful best with a flawless painting that takes its enigmatic cue from the book or more likely the film, Norwegian Wood. This is not photorealism, it’s subtler than that.

Photography is its unmistakeable source but the visual language evokes the likes of Velasquez or Vermeer. That’s where it seems to be rooted, unlike Ben Clarke’s jaw-droppingly realistic painting, Mile Stone, which dwells unmistakably in the technological present.

More typical of the painterly present are Paul Crook’s studies of depressingly familiar estates that are brought to garish life through the generous application of screamingly fluorescent colours. With such unlikely bed-fellows the show itself doesn’t come as willingly to life.

It can’t do, but if you keep your eyes straight ahead as you stand before each uncompromising proposition, you won’t go far wrong.

Peter McCarthy

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