• Archie Gibbs

The Modern Institute Review: Anne Collier and Julia Chiang, 2020.

Updated: Nov 24, 2020

The Modern Institute reopens with two separate shows from New York based artists, Anne Collier and Julia Chiang, respectively. Rejoicing at the opportunity to finally visit a gallery in person for art existing outside of my laptop, I headed down to see the concurrent exhibitions on a sunny Saturday afternoon.

The Aird’s Lane location is home to the Collier show - the artist’s third solo with the gallery - a self-titled exhibition displaying connotations of the series Woman Crying (Comic), Tear (Comic) and her newer Filter series. With the appropriated image an eminent fixture in Collier practice, this show keeps on brand, predominantly circling around the motif of women crying, close ups of the tearing eye. Collier’s show thrusts the viewer into her visually challenging world and asks us questions of what it means to decontextualise imagery. Through a manipulation of familiar iconography found in classic 1950s cartoons, Collier affronts the predisposed reaction of passive sympathy, ultimately addressing the frankly uncomfortable ubiquity of the suffering woman often glazed over. Collier’s work highlights the blatantly skewed construction and bias in core components of the maturation of young women, perpetuating a problematic mythology.

Installation view, Filter, Anne Collier, The Modern Institute, Aird’s Lane, Glasgow, 2020. Image courtesy of author.

The new series entitled ‘Filter’ takes centre stage in the show. A six-panel frieze, Filter illuminates the facsimile image of the crying woman in a range of colour filters on the Ben-Day dot illustration technique popularised in these comics. The morbid enlargement makes clear self-reflection on the use of grainy paper and incomplete editing process of the images, creating a dissociation from the romantic comic setting instead towards the rather cold corporeality of an anonymous woman crying. The work exists within the operation of the Kodak Colour Print Viewing Filter Kit, a nod to the pre-digitised, pre-photoshop era of editing images. In a rather Barthesian ilk Collier renders her manipulation process of images evident for all to see, provoking further thought of the processes enacted behind most imagery in the media. There is also a contemporary reference here, Filter is redolent of today’s infatuation with the instagram filters and what that means for representation especially among young women.

Installation view, Anne Collier, The Modern Institute, Aird’s Lane, Glasgow, 2020. Image courtesy of author.

Alongside the Anne Collier show, TMI’s main location on Osborne St houses Julia Chiang’s second show with the gallery: Holding My Breath Moving Closer Closer. Featuring a total of 52 works all made during the lockdown period, Chiang offers the viewer a window, both into her studio and into something deeper and more meaningful. The works all consist of similar forms and motifs - the pointed ellipses feature conspicuously throughout - yet each provides a different harmonious balance and unbalance. The ostensible uniformity of the works and clean cut aesthetic is quickly disparaged after close inspection; the shapes overlap and collide while constructing a real narrative of directional force and an undeniable, unchangeable flowing energy.

An initial sense of the celestial comes through when walking into the Osborne Street space for Chiang’s show. With the sun shining through the skylights and large windows, her work is somewhat reverent at first against the ethereal backdrop, however any idea that these are plainly decorative and objectively pretty works dissipates in a hurry once the seriality and repetitive effect comes into play after spending a few minutes in the space. I get the impression of an artist really working through both clashing and symbiotic forces, a disjointed biology seeking homeostasis. The more organic, curvilinear forms jut and bifurcate the field of pointed ellipses, yet it is much more than just a geometric composition. These works can be translated into the register of human relationships, emotions, physicality and environments.

Installation view, Julia Chiang, The Modern Institute, Osborne St, Glasgow, 2020. Image courtesy of author.

Both shows are available for viewing on the Modern Institute website with a gallery walk through and press release statement of the work for each, though I strongly recommend taking a bit of time out of a trip into town to see them in person.



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