Oscar Tuazon: Action

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3 out of 5 stars

Time Out says

3 out of 5 stars

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Industrial looking and rusty, Tuazon's sculptural objects and canvases blend with the charming, rough-hewn surrounds of the Adam's Row gallery space, an uneven-floored old coach house with coloured tiles and other such period distractions. Known for his huge wooden and concrete architectural installations often said to 'attack' the serenity of their surroundings, the American artist's subtler new works are wallflowers in comparison to past installations.

The results of accidental mark making, his sparse canvases bear imprints and traces of studio debris – rust, charcoal and cement – acting as testimonies to the irreducible presence of these discarded materials.Yet while these works seem to talk of the persistent being, or 'thingness', of these natural substances, there is a playful air of concealment about them. Not only do they meld with their setting, they refuse to reveal the exhibition's titular's artistic 'action', of which they appear to be a result.

Across town in a whiter, more clean-cut second gallery space, Tuazon presents further canvases – engine oil and charcoal-smeared off-cuts of a drop cloth used by the artist as a work surface. As is often the case with such abstracts, one reluctantly begins to see landscapes and other such apparitions within the streaks and smudges, and yet no further knowledge of the inconspicuous 'action' is gleaned. Alongside these, Tuazon has fashioned large objects from studio fittings. A workbench for example, has been adorned with a mess of excess legs and parts. As if sheepishly in disguise, it feels as though these sculptures are attempting to hide their artfulness by dressing up as furniture.

Promoting dirt to the status of art and bringing the detritus of the workplace into the gallery are familiar tactics. With his nod to the elevated genre of action painting however, Tuazon achieves an unusual effect, simultaneously addressing issues of material presence, whilst teasingly outlining an invisible creative act.

The bottom line: Where there's muck, there's brass.

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