Everything Remote Intermingles

February 22 – March 18, 2017, Parlour Projects, Hastings.

Ben Pearce’s exhibition Everything Remote Intermingles seems at first glance sparse, simple even. A few steps further and the exact opposite is true.

Lunar landscapes appear akin to images beamed from an orbiting satellite or lunar module, drilled and gouged into metal by the artist and his dremel. Found objects, including vintage irons, have been recontextualised, their plates drilled with intricate craters, mountains and valleys. Complete new worlds rendered in hard silver metal. A frame and mirror surround hang as portals to nowhere, worlds on their own.

Crater Pod 1, 2 & 3, staffs, sticks or rods, are whatever you view their horizontal perspective to be. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to play them like mystical flutes, or brandish them skyward and summon up a mythical being.

Six Literal, Consecutive 24-Hour Days sits atop a plinth, golden and gleaming. A provocative phallic spiked rod festooned with its own circular world . As soon as I saw it I launched into a chorus of Beyonce’s If You Liked It Then You Should Have Put A Ring On It. A male viewer was heard to say, “This work is perhaps penetrating the viewer’s social intercourse”!

For Mel Blanc is masculine in material, scale and cubist form, angular and sharp, a hint of his previous work here. The rusty surface is evocative of the down-and-dirty masculine world and is perhaps my least favourite. I am more drawn to the glitz and shine of other works…being a girl and all…

For those of us who weren’t privy to his previous exhibition or award-winning Number 8 Wire artwork, this body of work may seem worlds away from his previously brilliant Mad Assemblages. What connects them is Ben’s continued passion and love affair with the ‘perfect’ surface and in this he is a master. It is as if he has sent these pieces to space, where they have collided with meteors and become space damaged. These artworks are scrupulously considered. The artist’s mark making allowing the viewers to explore every millimeter of each tiny lunar world. Haunting, serious and yet playful, this exhibition invites the viewer to connect and create their own narrative.

What I found fascinating is the existence of both male and feminine aesthetics. Be that the use of mundane domestic objects, or the glimmering patina of gold and silver, these hard metal artworks become objects of desire for both genders.

We don’t often get to see provocative contemporary art of this calibre and magnitude in the provinces and I think that for the average Joe this exhibition may be a challenge, but give it a go.  What makes this especially sweet is that artist Ben Pearce is the boy-next-door. He is one of us – a local lad, geographically isolated just like the rest of us – but I don’t think he will be for very much longer: there’s a whole world for him to explore.

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