15 Oct - 21 Nov 2008


“The past is something to fictionalise.”
Exhibition Text by Alexie Glass

In this world, it is instantly obvious that something is odd. Pot-bellied cut glass bowls float inverted and subdued on waxed credenzas, the slippery surface of effete display exposing the intoxicating delight of discrete bourgeoisie fetish. An alluring laboratory set, Encounter (2008), carries its contradictions boldly. An initial glance might suggest a confluence of science and alchemy, yet a lingering gaze slowly reveals a tender and elaborate sensuality of form that resists fact in favour of fiction. Confabulated, satirical and meticulously nuanced, Nicholas Folland’s realm poses speculations for ratbag scientists, fringe dwellers, explorers and dreamers.  

Part of the pleasure, and the challenge, in Folland’s practice for all potential wanderers, is tracking the various connections it makes with the often warring worlds of science, psychology, philosophy and the prosaic. Disorientating and re-assembling seemingly familiar apparatus—cut-glassware, maps, chandeliers, ice and fluorescent tubes—he gives physical substance to thought experiments designed to unsettle the normative ways in which recognition can be displaced through precise and perverse intervention. 

Indian Blue #2(2008) and Pacific Blue #2 (2008), enigmatic maps of ocean depths devoid of inhabitable landmasses, disturb the balance of perception by establishing a lyrical meditation on what lies beneath. Mimicking the conventions of pictorial grids, simple geometries of longitude provide expanded latitude by reducing the hard and fast stuff of concrete mapping into a minimalist landscape of monochromatic luminescence.

Embedded in cut-glass decanters two replica vessels the Investigatorand Le Géographetransform into shape-shifting abstractions of shadow and light in Untitled (boat) 5 (2008). Sequestered from the narrative of history, the moment at which explorers Matthew Flinders and Nicholas Baudin crossed paths at Encounter Bay in 1802 is illuminated as a fossilized whimsy, prone to colonial mythologising. As kitsch and surreal parlour souvenirs, cloistered and suffocated these counterfeit artifacts—vessels within empty vessel—exist as part and parcel of our cultural image set, with all the comparative connotations such recontextualising implies.

It is fitting that Folland has identified the anachronistic signifiers of a civilized world as the matter for his elegantly constructed chaos: the pliant and thinly veneered environments of order and modesty can hardly resist de-basing. The artist recently stated in an interview that “many of my works make somewhat fictitious reference to the narratives of early exploration because these stories describe the body at its most vulnerable to nature” and in his manipulations the seemingly composed surfaces of domesticity and the interior become more allusive abjections. In this world, all things are porous as the ordinary abandons restraint and the beauty of impermanence builds in your imagination as the very essence of time itself.

Alexie Glass

Director Gertrude Contemporary Art Spaces, October 2008