Beneath the Body

Tent Gallery: Run Ended

This small and intimate exhibition at the Tent Gallery is understood through its title. Beneath the Body is comprised of pieces that are fleshy, highly textural, and somewhat haunting. Large foam sculptures resemble human figures and thick, heavily loaded paintings call to mind a pile of amputated limbs. The flyer aide that accompanies the exhibition is a nice addition, despite it being a little dense in text and having an amateurish look about it.

Although the overall visual impression is considerably grisly, there is a really strong element of sensuality here. The human hand that made these pieces can be traced in Danny Leyland’s gestural brushwork and Connie Hurley’s organic forms. Reds, ochres and mauves emphasise the visceral and carnal nature of the work, perhaps a little obvious for an exhibition entitled Beneath the Body, but it works here.

The highly textural character of Leyland’s work is refreshing: it maintains a duality between the way it works visually, yet also infuses the work with subliminal meaning: they are literally fleshed out with paint and his technique embodies the theme wholeheartedly.

Hurley’s sculptures also bear this kind of appearance. The foam acts as a skin over the chicken-wire forms, which are visible at times, but not to their detriment. The material gives these sculptures a kind of human-looking shape, without being overtly figural.

The balance between sculpture and painting in the show is well maintained, both in size and in appearance; the media complement each other for the most part. The addition of photographs, a drawing and a couple of anomalous brown rope pieces that sit awkwardly in places is unnecessary; there is a discord between the size of the main body of work with these smaller items. They are also distracting, and do not work to unify the display. In this compact space, less is more.

Overall, Hurley’s foam sculptures and Leyland’s large paintings are both accomplished and engaging, making an captivating collaboration between two students at the Edinburgh College of Art that is both original and imaginative, but would be improved with some editing.

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