Rose Nolan
Anoth­er Home­work Experiment

14th May – 20th June 2009
Anna Schwartz Gallery

Care­ful­ly step­ping in the holes in the vast expanse of paint­ed hes­s­ian stretched on the floor of Rose Nolan’s stu­dio, all I could think was-what is it? The scale of Anoth­er Home­work Exper­i­ment was not a sur­prise. Nolan’s work reg­u­lar­ly oscil­lates between the dis­crete and the mon­u­men­tal. How­ev­er, once I heard that it formed the basis of a cor­ri­dor struc­ture to be con­struct­ed in the gallery, it seemed curi­ouser and curi­ouser. I imag­ined a vast tent or cub­by­house cob­bled togeth­er from a stiff ele­phan­t’s hide: Bruce Nau­man meets Babar?

Nolan has inti­mat­ed a desire to cre­ate a hab­it­able work for some time now: maque­tte-like con­struc­tions; pho­tographs of build­ings; wall paint­ings that out­line archi­tec­tur­al spaces. Nolan’s new project, which if not exact­ly bricks and mor­tar, is a bona fide struc­ture that must be walked through to access the gallery. Per­fo­rat­ed by large pol­ka dots, the rough fab­ric walls are out­lined against the light like the trac­ery of a Goth­ic win­dow (or, a lace-like cage?). And this is not all. What we are walk­ing through is the reverse of the paint­ed exte­ri­or, a back­stage pass (or pas­sage), if you like. Emerg­ing from Nolan’s tun­nel (her own descrip­tion of the work), the words HARD BUT FAIR and POINT­LESS are vis­i­ble along each side. The cir­cles cut out of them have des­ic­cat­ed these texts, of course.

This has been a strat­e­gy of sev­er­al of Nolan’s recent works: to com­pli­cate their leg­i­bil­i­ty, com­pelling the view­er to resist the quick grab. And what of the texts them­selves? The first, sound­ing like a reces­sion-era homi­ly, sits incon­gru­ous­ly against its high-spir­it­ed paint­ed and per­fo­rat­ed field (per­haps, like a car­ni­val sideshow, with the occa­sion­al face pok­ing through). More­over, POINT­LESS seems less an admis­sion of defeat, than the ced­ing of space: those dots nib­bling away at both the red field and the white let­ters, com­pli­cat­ing the work’s already com­pli­cat­ed spa­tial­i­ty. Is there a pos­si­bil­i­ty that these voids will even­tu­al­ly take over com­plete­ly, leav­ing the work so degrad­ed and moth-eat­en that it will quite sim­ply dis­ap­pear? I actu­al­ly favour this prospect, which links Nolan’s extrav­a­gant ges­ture with the paint­ed clay idols of India. Worked on for months at a time, they are pro­ces­sioned through the streets being immersed in water where they will dis­solve and vanish.

Michael Graf, 2009


Rose Nolan

Tunnel/​Tent Work — HARD BUT FAIR/POINT LESS, 2009
acrylic paint, hes­s­ian and cot­ton thread
2484270100 cm

Rose Nolan

Plac­ard Work — AWKWARD, 2009
acrylic paint, card­board, wood
28522 cm

Rose Nolan

R U OK, 2008
Acrylic paint and cardboard
5036 cm