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Kris Martin is all about squaring up to the big themes – life, death, faith – then recoiling with an impish smile. Whether attaching tiny paper crosses to boulders, or linking figurines of Christ so that they resemble paperchains, the Belgian artist delights in undermining all things heroic and turning forehead-furrowing existential questions into a running gag as he goes.
The main event here isn’t a big surprise. Arranged in a snaking line are more than 100 sandstone slabs. They look like gravestones and the installation resembles a ‘Flintstones’ version of one of those domino World Record attempts. A single push and the whole lot would topple (it’s roped off from the public, naturally), which might lead you think about the fragility of existence or, if you’re feeling less charitable, a one-liner being stretched to breaking point.
The exhibition starts off better than this with ‘Lost Wax’, a series of wall-mounted sculptures cast from beehive frames via the ancient process of lost wax casting. There’s a visual pun here too, about presence and absence, creation and destruction, nature and artifice. But staring at these honeycombed interiors, what impresses most is fragile, understated beauty – proof that humour, for Martin, isn’t just a get-out clause, that sometimes he dares to mean it.