Coat-hanger crucifixes, a matchstick Jesus and Satan, and kitsch collages of biblical scenes form this audacious and intense exhibition of the Scottish Turner-nominated artist David Mach at Edinburgh’s City Art Centre (David Mach: Precious Light, ends 16 October).
The exhibition explores Mach’s diverse career and his use of contrasting mediums, which, in this case, all respond to one central theme: the Bible, in particular, the King James Bible, which celebrates its 400th anniversary this year.
The exhibition is not overtly religious, but is filled with social commentary. Mach’s dense, large-scale and fascinating cinematic collages evoke the culture of excess, hedonism and chaos of contemporary society. Filled to the rim with images taken from magazines and other mass media, the scenes are condensed and exaggerated, with people and cluttered objects bustling for space and attention inside the frame. Themes from the bible are treated literally – whether the plague of frogs, the red sea parting, or heaven and hell. Mach used such themes, combined with the familiarity of popular culture, as a springboard to comment on the artificiality, greed and destruction brought by contemporary civilization.
Meanwhile, Mach’s colossal, explosive crucifixes – Golgotha and Die Harder – capture agony and drama with such realism. Made from coat hangers, the larger-than-life forms scream in agony down at the viewer; their puncturing, explosive forms carrying such intensity in comparison to the more intricate, analytical effect of his collages.
Also on view is a bust of Jesus Christ made entirely of matchsticks, which is paired with a version of the head of Satan, burned in a performance on August 4. Mach uses the process of burning as a creative and metamorphic force, which transforms his pop-like sculptures in a cathartic move. Perhaps what’s most interesting is the contrast between his everyday, potentially humorous or abasing materials with the drama and impact of what he is portraying. The two almost work together and feed off each other’s mutual antagonism, adding to the tension of his work.
One floor of the gallery has been transformed into a studio, where Mach and his team are working on a new monumental collage, The Last Supper, throughout August, which will be unveiled on September 20. For its intensity and controversy alone, this exhibition is unlike anything else in Edinburgh at the moment.
See the original post over at Bareface Magazine.