Attracted to the contrast of light grey and blushy rose, I advance to the middle of the downstairs room. Blain Southern’s next and final project part of the Lodger series, a collection of art works selected by writer and curator Tom Morton. British artist Natalie Dray has entitled the composition of pieces: Kierkegaardashian, a strange name association for a peculiar mix of symbols and series of sculptures.
Isn’t there anything better than witnessing a poetic landscape of pink leaves set as a garland on a metal structure? In most cases that would be true. Here, Kierkegaardashian, proves otherwise.
Seemingly a charming setting borrowed from the luscious decorations of make-up department store stands, devoted to attracting random faces to transform into pure beauty, Dray’s sculptures primarily expose candour in contrast with violence. Up close, disillusion takes over and imposes its abrupt reality over febrile beliefs.
Plasters made of pewter are stuck on the wall, exposing brutal handwritten words “:) Don’t be a dick :)” and “Fuck you hater” explicitly set the underlying tone of the room simultaneously re-joining the discretion of the title: Kierkegaardashian. At first unnoticed, the twitter account title of the same name comes back to mind. The idea of beautiful leaves interlacing the harshness of the metal is deteriorated by the intrusion of the plasters, packs of painkillers and condoms. This doesn’t sound good after all.
Kierkegaardashian is the apposition of 17th century existentialist philosopher Kierkegaard and 21st century reality star Kim Kardashian. Dray projects the world as it is, whether we like it or not. There are no sides to be taken. Sexuality and depression appear to be presented as the common symbol of our society’s illness. Blended in the poetic garlands of leaves, trapped in metal grids, there doesn’t seem to be anywhere else to turn. The entire series of sculptures identify a malaise which in the worst-case scenario pairs with degeneration. What strikes most is the ease with which the elements play with our minds. Harmoniously orchestrated, the viewer is led to believe that leaves can be pink and pharmaceutical objects can blend in the white background.
The titles of each piece reveal the intensity of Dray’s urgency in her message: “SICKENING”, “WILD”, “I die”, “I’m living”, “SLAY”, “FIRE”. The calmness of the stems crawling along the metal shelves and grids evoke our blinded minds, swamped into our phones and social media, oblivious to the disturbing reality which we are choosing, or simply avoiding.
The world we are living in is carefully made up of pleasing tones and convenient artifacts encouraging the majority to ignore the chaos and the uncertainty of the future while the minority creates sculptures and artworks to denounce, in turn, an illogical reasoning.
Kierkegaardashian: Natalie Dray at Blain Southern London (25 July – 15 September 2018)