Mark Wallinger has quietly become the most seen artist in Britain. Not the artist himself or as 'self,' of which this new exhibition is built upon but through views of a previous project, the London Underground supported Labyrinth. In celebrating 150 years of the Tube, Art on the Underground commissioned Wallinger to come up with something similar but unique for all two hundred and seventy stations. With Waterloo alone experiencing ninety million passengers each year, it's quite easy to add up that tens of millions of people are seeing one of his mazes every month. It's enviable exposure for anyone in the public eye.
This new body of work has no one running around in circles, instead his first show with Hauser & Wirth on Savile Row comprises a large series of paintings of immediate balance as it's central premise. Like a blackened Yves Klein, these show the very physicality of being painted from a body. There are spidery finger trails and thicker fistfuls of paint smeared and pushed, pulled and spread in perfect reflection from an invisible central line. There are skulls and phalluses or vulvas and intestines implied, all Rorschach-like from the work being created on the floor and the pigment being manipulated in mirrored movements. They are also very large, far taller in height than anyone would be able to reach; a further indication of the dance played out on each one.
Ego is a playful riffing of Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel, crudely caught on a camera phone the artist's hands posed as both God and Adam. Reference points of a higher calling perhaps.
In the other gallery a mirrored triangle (like a pristine Scotland Yard) rotates upon a column, each surface impossibly clean, reflecting not a great deal as the remainder of the room is left entirely empty. More conscious of a movement of time is a four screen video showing a roundabout, at its centre a tree. The four images of it have been recorded over different seasons, the tree either loosing its leaves in Autumn, bare in mid-winter, blossoming or in full growth. It's made all the more dizzying by the TVs, at head height, all looking inward towards one another, leaving the viewer tightly revolved around when standing in their middle.
Two more video works complete the show, one just two seconds long, filling a whole wall and looped ad infinitum the other a casually lent screen on the floor showing the artist's shadow walk along a central London route. That the sun would shine enough to leave us with a shadow of our own - despite its blacked out setting, it made me long for summer.
At one point the artist kept a racehorse and it is Kent's loss that budgetary problems scrapped a long-planned huge equestrian effigy; it was to become the 'Angel of the South,' to welcome those coming back from the Continent. These horse projects are now confined to the art history books and admirable monograms but there seems to be a wealth of ideas to mine in these explorations of the self and Wallinger continues to seek out the new.
http://www.hauserwirth.com/exhibitions/2717/mark-wallinger-id/view/ until May 7th