The Drawers - Briar Craig   Commentary written by Julie Oakes

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For Font's Sake

Going back and forth between extreme focus and a sense that there is something more to be seen than we have access to; both the message and the visual support the disconcertion. There is an inconvenience imposed that creates a discommode as if the information is intermittent. To be able to grasp the entire significance we are in a position that requires a step back in order to see the whole picture and yet we have been given a magnified version of the message instead.

Combining the shape of the letters with a convoluted messaging system, Briar Craig tests our response to his letters. The viewer is seldom allowed a passive stance, for he offers just enough clues in his formatting to suggest that if the mind stretches, the reason why the letters have been set up in such a way will come clear. It may be an association with the ground and the placement of the letters, Upside Down for instance, where the very phrase has a curious ring, and when suspended in the context of an art piece, it becomes even “curiouser”, as the white rabbit coined. The faded, creased, rusted, shot or frayed material lends an immediate historicity to the object, yet as an art piece the object is far more present than it was in reality. Craig coalesces his mind games in an aesthetic realm that is partially endemic to the medium, silk screen. The technical layering of the colors contributes to a poignancy of image, and Briar Craig has perfected the method of creating a sensuous depth of field to the extent that a crumpled piece of card becomes a varied and rewarding color experience.

The challenge of the discussion he is provoking is almost overshadowed by the poignancy of the visuals and the temptation creeps in to forget about meaning and rest, instead, in a simpler visual appreciation. As the cardboard changes under his hand into gold, K and O by existing on such a ground become important characters. The words “Utopian Vacuum” with a glow radiating from the relief letters on the intensely evocative background provoke a Gollum-like desire to possess this found object, now transformed into a precious object. The personal rewards from having found significance in the discarded are however suspect as if there is more trickery at play than is realised. The objects seem too incredible, too wonderful, to have been real scraps. Or perhaps it is our lack and we have not been sufficiently alert to discover the treasures that blow through the windy streets.

Copyright © 2007,  Julie Oakes