Alan Reid: An Absent Monument
20 January 2014
There's something missing from Alan Reid’s second show of paintings at Mary Mary. Anyone familiar with the already hazy façades of the Texan-born artist’s work will recall how much it has been dominated by the figure of a woman: aloof, enigmatic and as studiedly bored as a 1970s Jackie magazine mannequin, soft-focused, dappled pink and insipid. As the title of this new show suggests, the woman has vanished from the scene, leaving a trail of clues that suggests she might just be hiding.
‘It’s an exhibition designed to convey an absent character,’ Reid explains. ‘A show without a subject. My previous shows used images of women extensively, so I thought it would be interesting to hint at her presence, without showing. Something like all those cinematic clichés of lipstick on glass, or a newspaper left on a park bench, or a bra thrown over a lampshade … The paintings are basically non-functioning clocks. A model’s face replaced by a clock’s face.’
The centrepiece of the show is ‘La notte (1961)’, a three-wall mural depicting the debris of things left behind: a moustache, a pair of glasses, a mask. These are hidden when set against columns of giraffe-spot patterns in a piece named after Italian auteur Michelangelo Antonioni’s 1961 film about a disintegrating marriage.
Is the missing woman, then, the other woman, and where has she gone? ‘The thing you have to understand, what I’m involved with is both philosophy and a soap opera,’ Reid says. ‘I hope she hasn’t vanished completely. She’ll reappear. I’m dependent on the emotional potential of those images; they both educate me and loosen some calcified feeling. But making that work is a bear.’
Mary Mary, Glasgow, Sat 25 Jan–Sat 15 Mar