CATHY WARD & ERIC WRIGHTOctober 27th – November 25th

A fantasy forest of trees stripped to the bone, painted and adorned with talismanic idylls and magical objects; spectacular, escapist fantasies and fairy tale castles, invested with the seductive and disturbing power of classical Romanticism, evoking bowers where “mad” King Ludwig II and Walt Disney sit together in hyper-real pastorals more perfect than nature itself. Ward & Wright’s lyrical forest is a radically joyous exploration of how the revisionism involved in popular myth-making adopts the sugar-glazed guise of candy-coloured artifice. Inspired by a “revelation” in the Hofbraufhaus, Berchtesgaden in Bavaria, Germany, TransRomantik is an ambitious journey into the darkness at the heart of “innocence”.


Fetish, Anti-Fetish, Thing They looked for it outside themselves, but it was only to be found within. C Baudelaire, "What is Romanticism?" Insides Out. Perhaps we recall Dante’s Forest of the Suicides, each object standing stark in independent space, petrified totem of itself, no foliage to conceal the wood from the trees, from us. Dante’s trees would stand and scream and bleed. So might some of these. Others would run with gold, or laugh, or play a music box tune. One could kill, another weep. But to linger for too long in the notion of a forest would be to go astray and we must move into the idea of the Clearing. Obvious choice, and the perfect prototype of Installation. Of course for Heidegger the Clearing is the place of unveiling, where Being literally dis-covers itself. So what is revealed, unveiled in this clearing? Well precisely the veiled object. One is reminded of Hegel’s bizarre definition of a plant – an animal with its organs on the outside. However here what the objects, “the trees”, bear on their outside is all their symbolic determinations – it is almost as if, as objects, they leave us nothing to do as viewer. The work of fantasy, normally accomplished by the gaze, which transmutes this tree into a demon, this one a sylph, all the poetry of the tree is already accomplished by the trees themselves, which are fantastically overdetermined. So paradoxically these apparently sensual, gorgeous objects achieve a sublime banality, an inert completeness – all the work has been done here, you need bring nothing to this encounter. As such, what we are confronted with is the process of gazing itself, it is the gaze incarnated, clinging to the surface of the object. One is reminded of the ultimate failure of hardcore pornography, where, as here, nothing is left to the imagination – eventually the observed process becomes surgical, abstract. To sustain ones erotic involvement it is eventually necessary to eroticise this very absence of eroticism. Something similar happens here – with our fantasy enacted before our eyes, with our insides out there, projected, embodied, completed –what are we to do? Nature herself is projected…Only in the light of a Nature which has been projected in this fashion can anything like a fact be found” Heidegger. Hyperromanticism/Transromanticism/ Hyper-Realism That Truth has the structure of a fiction, that the Real requires a minimum of fantasy for reality to appear as such, is no new notion, Heidegger is merely iterating the founding trope of transcendental idealism, of Kant, that cold father of Romanticism. Romantic licence takes its cue from our exclusion from The Thing, our exile in the phenomenal. Potentially cosy option, make believe, lets make it up, the soft core porn of Romantic Landscape Painting, Nature in the knickers of Notion. But take it further, push Romanticism to its limit, objectify the process of objectification and we move beyond fetishism into an uncanny other realm, that of the Thing in itself. Husserl defined the Thing as the ideal limit of all its possible modes of perception, an asymptotic point. A fetish brought to such a pitch of completion, or in a state of such almost perfect (over)explication, begins to approach the status of The Thing, as Romanticism, taken to the logical limit, returns to its Kantian roots, and becomes the only kind of realism we can ever have. Let us recapitulate the pathway that takes us to the Thing’s unveiling in the clearing of this exhibition. Beginning with the deployment of the standardtropes of romanticism, the work repeats its founding gesture, overloads the object of the gaze until the gaze itself emerges from the object. The trees have eyes. Looking back, we encounter our inability to see the thing beyond the act of seeing, and in this clearing the thing itself emerges as a beautiful lie. Vincent Deary 2000

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