Susannah Thompson, 'Craig Mulholland at Sorcha Dallas' (Flash Art, 07/2004)
Craig Mulholland Plastic Casino
Presented by the newly opened Sorcha Dallas gallery, Craig Mulholland’s latest show, ‘Plastic Casino,’ is self-assured and sophisticated, Undeniable, the range and scale of the exhibition, (staged in two venues), is bold and to attempt to encapsulate the depth and complexity of the multitudinous references and themes enmeshed and interwoven here would be an insurmountable task. As a surface – scratching glimpse of Mulholland’s work, though, the onlooker might imbibe an incorporeal tension between the seemingly paradoxical convergence of Romanticist and enlightenment ethics and aesthetics, presented as a ‘mythical fantasy on a black and white stage.’
Leading us through a phantasmagorical cast of table-rappers, conjurers, droogs, and dwarves, a wraith-like croupier-flaneur (in the recurring guise of a roulette ball) gestures towards Rembrandt, Goya, Richter, and Balthus via Duchampian punning, Supermatist opera, game theory, and 16th century woodcuts. All the while, a soundtrack reverberates around the space, adding incongruous pathos to dark ambience via Neil Diamond’s ‘Forever in Blue Jeans’ )unrecognizably transformed through text-to-speech voice synthesis) and a Durutti Column cover.
Exhibiting the majority of his work within a soon-to-be redeveloped warehouse in Glasgow’s Osborne Street, in ‘Plastic Casino’, Mulholland’s melding of the ubiquitous alternative space (already commodified as the new white cube) with the look of a seedy, semi-legal gambling den acknowledges his complicity in the present gentrification of Glasgow’s run-down ‘artists quarter,’ while simultaneously recalling Daumier’s lithographed laments for Gothic Paris in Haussmann’s heyday.