Sam Porritt at c-o-m-p-o-s-i-t-e, Brussels

Installation view ‘Lonely target’:
Lost and Found
Up and Out
Magic, Aluminium, clay, fabric, polystyrene, 127 x 15 x 99 cm, unique, 2017
©Sam Porritt

‘How do you ward off the infection?’ asked the Dirty Cleaner. ‘Obviously, I don’t’ the Sick Doctor replied. ‘What do you mean by that?’ Inquired the Stupid Teacher slow-wittedly. ‘Well it’s obvious that she doesn’t!’ The Tireless Patient answered in place of the doctor. ‘I’m getting fond of its effects,’ explained the Willing Hostage. ‘I don’t seem to have that problem’, countered the Inhospitable Host. ‘But just how contagious is this thing? What should I know? What can I do?’ the Diligent Dilettante asked again. ‘It’ll kill us all’ uttered the Dead Undertaker. ‘Then we’ll have to find a cure’ the Lost Explorer proposed. ‘I’ll follow you but at a distance’ the Timid Adventurer murmured. ‘You go, I’m staying here’, the Lazy Runner sighed. ‘Whatever the cost’ the Poor Banker assured, ‘I’ll finance the whole thing.’ The Consistent Hypocrite spoke next adding: ‘Go with your guts and a cool head and always remember that going back is the best way forward, all else is purposeful folly.’ ‘But what will I say to the people?’ The Democratic Dictator enquired undecidedly. ‘I agree!’ The Leaderless Follower volunteered with unthinking haste. ‘Let me take care of that!’ The Irrelevant Artist and the Powerless Politician yelled in unison. So they tried, and to no avail. The pandemic transmitted by wifi swept all before it.

*

c-o-m-p-o-s-i-t-e is currently presenting The Lonely Target, a solo exhibition with all new works in sculpture, drawing, and text by Sam Porritt. In line with his earlier work, Porritt uses a light touch to deal with intractable questions that span philosophical and anthropological dimensions. Through keenly simple operations, Porritt crafts linguistic, graphic, and sculptural forms of expression into material queries of topical relevance. So does The Lonely Target. The exhibition takes up societal questions about truth, logic, and the validity of an argument. The reasoning of art revisited, or what if a crooked logic can beg some of the right questions?

A serpentine form winds its way through the entire exhibition. It is the basis for a garland designed by the artist that encircles the exhibition title. A formal expression akin to a range of art historical ornamental designs is put into the present-day context, whilst keeping its atemporal quality. The emphasis is simultaneously placed on shape and process, bringing about the entangled movement of the serpentine. Porritt thereby materializes gestures of double movement: counter-intuitive and seemingly self-contradictory. To put it simply; what is a line and what can a line convey?

This approach is further fleshed out by the drawings Porritt presents. It forms a structure shared by all the drawings, an overlapping motif that morphs to suggest different readings. The artist delves down into what a ‘poor’ hand-drawn two-dimensional technique can do as an art form. Pushed forth by a sense of squandered potential of the material, Porritt manipulates the technique and its expressive capacities in the same way he does ‘inside’ the drawings. Crafting maximum richness out of something apparently poor. In this approach to aesthetic abstraction the gap between the intelligible and the sensible is nullified, as both are brought to coincide.

Porritt has developed three sculptures concurrently with the drawings that deploy the same protagonist, a loosely defined snake, in each case its head contingently modeled – just enough to invoke that marginalized creature much beloved by myth. Imbued with both good and evil, the mythical snake enjoys and suffers an ambivalent status across numerous cultures and throughout history. In Porritt’s use, it is the snake’s ambivalence that forces the issue to be considered, as it provides a form that is bent to tell a series of stories, whether to do with altruism and contagion in the case of ‘Supplicant,’ habit and repetition in ‘Muscle Memory’ or isolation and belief as conveyed by ‘Magic.’

If one work sits slightly adjacent to the others it is ‘The Dirty Cleaner’. Both a drawing and a text, it constitutes a list of people, many of them identified and subject to their occupation. Here again the artist sets up a loopy logic that he intermittently punctures with glee. This work sets a certain tone that permeates the exhibition, splitting the difference between comedy and tragedy.

Up and Out, Brush, ink, wax crayon on paper 100 x 70 cm, unique, 2017
©Sam Porritt

 

Lost and Found, Brush, ink, wax crayon on paper, 100 x 70 cm, unique, 2017
©Sam Porritt

 

Installation view
Misfit
Magic
©Sam Porritt

 

Misfit, Brush, ink, wax crayon on paper 100 x 70 cm, unique, 2017
©Sam Porritt

 

Bridge and Tunnel
©Sam Porritt

 

Bridge and Tunnel, Brush, ink, wax crayon on paper, 100 x 70 cm, unique, 2017
©Sam Porritt

 

Supplicant, Clay, motor, steel, wood,60 x 207 x 40 cm, unique, 2017
©Sam Porritt

 

Supplicant
©Sam Porritt

 

Installation view:
Growth
The Dirty Cleaner
Muscle Memory
©Sam Porritt

 

Muscle Memory, Synthetic clay, steel, wood, 210 x 175 x 20 cm, unique, 2017
©Sam Porritt

 

Muscle Memory
©Sam Porritt

 

The Dirty Cleaner, Pencil on paper, Frame, 29.7 x 42 cm, unique, 2017
©Sam Porritt

 

c-o-m-p-o-s-i-t-e – Varkensmarkt 10 rue du Marché aux Porcs BE-1000 Brussels
7 September – 14 October 2017