Critics’ Picks

View of  “Composite Order,” 2014.

View of “Composite Order,” 2014.


Neil Ayling

63 Margaret Street
January 17–March 1, 2014

For his first solo exhibition at this gallery, Neil Ayling presents two related bodies of work. The sculptures are not explicitly displayed as two distinctive projects, but they can be divided by subject matter—half the show is site-specific to this Mayfair gallery and the other half depicts a sixteenth-century Benedictine church. Ayling uses the same technique for both, in which he photographs architectural interiors, prints the images in black-and-white ink onto A4 paper, and transfers each onto geometric Jesmonite and plywood structures. The result is a nearly life-size reproduction of a space, presented within another space itself, which effectively conflates time with place.

The installation that echoes the church began taking shape when Ayling was in Venice for the 2013 Biennale. While there, he was taken by an architectural feature developed during Renaissance period called composite order, which is an amalgamation of decorative styles used to embellish the top section of a column—much of this informs his project. He photographed the San Giorgio Maggiore and transferred the images onto jagged, contorted freestanding steel, epoxy putty, and Jesmonite structures. The resulting complicated modernistic geometry clashes with Ayling’s referent and illustrates a discordant mix of aesthetics.

In contrast, Ayling’s site-specific installation provides a potent replica of the gallery’s interior—through the same process he has replicated a drab upstairs room in the rear building of this space and erected the resulting duplicate inside the original room. There, the components tilt at disorienting angles and protrude from the walls—as if a life-size paper reproduction of the room has been crumpled up and placed within its indexical mark. A clunky radiator becomes strange when recreated on a downward-sloping section of the installation, while its working version, which can be seen behind it, becomes a glimpse of skin, suddenly more seductive in real form.