Two hundred and four

At a Glance

2010 by Joana Roberto
MA Fine Art Degree Show until 6th September (preview 31st August); http://joana-roberto.yolasite.com

At a Glance was on display recently at Empire Gallery in the show Nothing to be Done (postcard 196), an exhibition of beiged and quiet art that collectively expressed the notion of its title. Portuguese Roberto is about to finish her Masters at Central Saint Martins with her final show previewing this evening. Her work explores a range of different expressions, speaking through many modes other than paint, namely projected installations that, through eerie blue light and water, provide haunting images of what she wants to say. Speaking, stating a point, is often felt in Roberto’s art as works are frequently accompanied by the mirror writing that lines this piece. Her projections (Crystallized, Petrified, Urgent!) are fuelled with the association of the backlit lettering of advertisements; At a Glance is more subtle, with words hovering translucently, quivering almost, below the flighty objects they refer to. It reads ”Finally it was time to stop designing and to start making the dirt fly”, a poignant phrase of impatience with talk of technological aspirations, yet tainted by that onomatopoeic word dirt. Unclear as to whether this is a poetic statement or a critique of urbanisation, indeed the writing itself is deliberately tricky to decipher, it hangs as an ominous thought; accompanying these awesome structures that even themselves are not immediately obvious. They appear as trains hanging upside-down, huge rounded objects emerging from the sky clinging to the obstructive metal of their frame; they are neither quite graceful nor beautiful, but possess a magnanimity of representing the ideas of the future. Roberto’s painting style reflects this; her use of oil is watery and indefinite, as if these are apparitions of a dream. Their materialism is light, colour and form highlighted and drained in translucence, allowing the trains their invitation to curiosity while hinting at their melting uncertainty.

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