"Their formwork is engineered, their skins taut with the cold precision of industrial mass production, meaning that each component detail carries the suggestion of importance," says Magali Reus of her latest body of work, which are subtly suggestive of familiar machines or apparatus whose function and identity are intentionally ambiguous.
Going on show at South London Gallery this spring, As mist, description will be her first institutional solo exhibition in London, and will open with Crane, 2017, a large, pastel-coloured desk-like composition. Reminiscent of a façade or hoarding, it suggests a site under construction. Like a reference manual, this work harbours smaller details and material conceits that rhyme on many surfaces across the exhibition. Over-sized, unpopulated and unmoving, Crane works like a ship whose anchor ties every subsequent gesture back to its beginning symbols.
Works from Hwael, 2017, a series of metal sculptures, will be distributed throughout the gallery to reference "movement of both body and machine through urban space". Hwael employs the visual language of both classical decorative ironwork and ergonomic kit manufacture and incorporates notional weights, balances and straps. The repeated form of a backpack acts as a signifier for the human body as a nomadic creature in transit. The backpack’s internal and external faces add flourishes to this formal language, enforcing the importance of distinct character or personifying gestures within the set template.
Reus adds: "The metal sculptures of Hwael are distributed throughout the exhibition in the rhetorical manner of a fragmented whale skeleton, proportionally analogous to the skeletal framework of the public bus."
Strategically positioned next to each of the gallery’s entrances or passageways, and sharing certain characteristic features with the commonplace fire extinguisher, will be works from the series titled Sentinel, 2017. These wall-mounted sculptures are composed of metal work with cast, custom woven and embroidered hose-like sections. They are hung alongside shapes that appear to be in a molten or liquid state, suggesting that the heat conventionally associated with these devices was implicit in their making.
As mist, description runs from 23 March to 27 May at South London Gallery. It is accompanied by a publication with essays by Laura McLean-Ferris and Quinn Latimer, and an edition specially created by the artist for the Gallery.