Magdalen Chua, 'Gary Rough' (Daily Serving, online, 24/09/2011)

Gary Rough’s solo show, ‘Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, etc. …’ was developed during a residency of five weeks in the galleries of Sorcha Dallas, Glasgow.

In the first gallery, copies of George Orwell’s ‘1984’ sit on shelves, lining the upper perimeter of the gallery. An installation of Rough’s ongoing attempt to acquire one thousand, nine hundred and eighty-four copies of ‘1984’ that are either used or gifts, the ominously titled work A Premonition of the Future carries with it the text’s dystopian notions of censorship and suppressed freedom.  On one hand, the described attempt represents a feat of encountering and collecting the literal and symbolic meanings of the text as it passes through the hands of others. Viewers are presented with a state in-between that speaks of potential, and a sampling of book covers reflecting the proliferation of the text across various publishing and distribution channels over time. On the other hand, the sparseness of the installation and its out-of-reach display alludes to a quest that cannot be attained, contrasting with the narrated ambition.

The curious admixture of endeavor and futility is strongly apparent in the second gallery, displaying three pen drawings from an ongoing Failed Pattern series where deliberate errors are created that distort the regularity of harlequin patterns. These drawings are distinguished through titles that play with the sense of both space and failure, and dialogue with a lone pen drawing, Failed Pattern (Away from Here) that is hung in the office of Sorcha Dallas as part of the exhibition. The exercise in creating intentional failed patterns is paralleled along corners of the gallery walls that appear to be painted at the same height of the shelves of A Premonition of the Future, creating a visual continuation across both galleries. While the cumulative effect of the distortions in the pen drawings creates curvatures and a slightly optical effect; the use of paint for the patterns of the wall make room for the mistakes to be demonstrated through drips and cracks, presenting a sense of beauty that arises from exercises in failure.

Across both galleries, the installation and drawings compel one to think of the ways that narratives and practices of effort and failure act as recurring patterns in the rhythm of life one encounters on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, etc. …

Born in Glasgow, Rough (b.1972) is now based in New York, and has presented solo exhibitions at Inverleith House, Edinburgh; PS. 1 MoMA, New York; McCaffrey Fine Art, NY, and Yvon Lambert, Paris.