Alexander Kennedy, 'Rob Churm' (The List, 29/03/2007)

It isn’t clear if the drawings by Rob Churm are automatic outpourings or skilfully composed, surreal sketches – it’s more likely that the highly worked and patterned drawings by the Glasgow-based artist fall somewhere between the two.

Churm’s mostly monochromatic drawings perch precariously between awkward extremes, like a tree growing out of the top of a derelict building – beguiling and attractive flora indeed. All of the 12 drawings on show contain representational elements that emerge out of geometric repeating patterns, checks, stripes or dots and dashes. Sometimes the drawings appear to be caught up in mini suggestive narratives, while, elsewhere, pattern making and instinct take over. In ‘More, in the way of failure’, for example, a robot is rained on by a cloud of oil (or is it an obliterated speech bubble or a tree canopy?) as it stands in an unsteady mid-ground.

In ‘It Becomes the Thing’ we find one of the main themes in this exhibition, the exaggerated grotesque female form. At first this image could be mistaken for a Madonna and Child, with hands, cupped heads, breasts and haloes. On closer examination we find women as Freudian ‘Thing’. Mother/Other, with similar figures appearing throughout the show. Churm’s drawings knowingly play with these psychoanalytic tropes, but all the fetishistic lacy trimmings and meticulous pattern-making in the world can’t ward off this castrating monster.