MAGIC OF TIME EXHIBITION REVIEW
The American junk yard has provided a palette to many crucial moments in late Modernist art. Robert Rauschenberg returned to it throughout his career from the 1950s Combines to his Gluts of the late 1980s. Radically recontextualising the source material, the latter was a series of wall reliefs in which wrought metal remains were reassorted and distorted until they entered a new visual language. Side-stepping the romanticised associations of the automobile in mid-century American culture, John Chamberlain welded its industrial wreckage into stark abstract landscapes filled with voluminous inflations and crunched up craters.
Recalling this tradition through a new medium, a car scrap yard in Upstate New York has provided the site of inspiration for Russian-born graphic designer Misha Anikst’s first photography exhibition, ‘Magic of Time’ at the Afridi Gallery. The show is the result of several trips over the course of two years, allowing Anikst time to record the processes of deterioration and dilapidation which he encountered. Though we can always recognise the cars for what they are, even the dissolving shadows of a logo are not enough to distract us from Anikst’s bold recasting of the deserted into a formal study of decay.
With a background in design, Anikst’s exploration lies entirely in the details – closeup accounts of the patterns that are formed by the peeling of paint, rising mounds of rust or inevitable corrosion. A series of rigorous observations, they still give the effect of an optical illusion whose textural elements project from the board like a hologram. It’s a highly visceral translation of materiality with the power to make you flinch.
‘Magic of Time’ is on at the Afridi Gallery until 21st December.