Critics’ Picks

Simon Ling, Untitled, 2011, oil on canvas, 48 x 72".

Simon Ling, Untitled, 2011, oil on canvas, 48 x 72".

Bergen

Simon Ling

Bergen Kunsthall
Rasmus Meyers allé 5
February 27–April 5, 2015

In this survey of British painter Simon Ling’s output from the past half decade, Untitled, 2011, is part of a series that depicts a concrete foundation overgrown with patches of moss and grass, somewhere in the English countryside. The painting is a minute close-up of its subject, and such a scale suggests Ling’s interaction with it, both intellectually and physically. Fittingly, it was also featured in this venue’s previous exhibition “The Noing Uv It,” which speculated about the dynamics between objects, their portrayal, and the world.

The artist often examines urban landscapes, particularly those where he works in East London, and in this exhibition, various pieces depict the area’s surroundings—for example, fragments of facades, especially shop fronts, are often pictured. A striking aspect of these images is his rendition of retail-store signs in monochrome. This introduction of abstract elements into the predominantly representational compositions for which Ling is known complicates his practice. Such stylistic devices echo other key series here, including his still lifes, of which Untitled, 2012, featuring arrangements of discarded articles in a molded-plastic box, is a prominent example.

Elsewhere, Untitled, 2014, shows a building and two cars parked in the road with the rear part of one of the vehicles missing. Ling employs a combination of studio-based and en plein air techniques in his approach here, and the painting portrays a time lapse corresponding to the transient existence of the automobile in that particular location. This engagement with perception, rooted in a tension between looking and seeing, highlights a relationship between things and the mind that traverses both his and the preceding exhibition’s themes.