Tucked away in a cobbled backstreet of Edinburgh’s New Town is the Patriothall Gallery, host to the multi-disciplinary show SEEP II: Mirrors and Mires. The exhibition features work from artists that are predominantly from minority groups. It is composed of artwork made in almost every media imaginable, the glue that holds these juxtaposing mediums together is the theme of isolation and strong emotions. The pieces are displayed in stark white surroundings, yet at first the jarring mediums and lack of harmony between the exhibits seems confusing. However, an in-depth description of each piece in the accompanying booklet provides clarity.
Essentially, the subject matters of the pieces in the exhibition are not whimsical, they are challenging. A particularly intriguing piece, ‘Camilla De Castro’ by Karen Miranda Augustine depicts a deceased transgender adult actress; yet the piece is not morbid, rather it seems to be a colourful, rather kitsch tribute using materials such as fishnet tights. This piece exemplifies a dark playfulness that resonates throughout the exhibition; in the next room Ariadna Battich’s film ‘Limbs’ features decapitated Barbie dolls.
Several pieces in the show are confrontational, such as the provocative ‘Herm Torso Claw’ by gender variant artist Del LaGrace Volcano, a piece which seeks to explore hermaphroditic aspects of the body. However, the risqué does not define all of the art, as Mary Trodden’s painting ‘The Horizon’ shows in a sharp contrast; the colourful painting draws inspiration from children’s illustration. Contradictions such as these illustrate the conflicting nature of the exhibition and work to retain a viewer’s engagement.
Conversely, a sculpture by Steadfast named ‘Fistful’ seems lacklustre in comparison to the highly charged pieces surrounding it. The bland sculpture of a sack may very well be in irony, but it seems in discord with the expressive pieces around it, such as the dramatic dried dough landscapes of Ariadna Battich in ‘Drawers’, a sculpture that is both visually and conceptually stimulating.
The exhibition is peppered with video installations, the highlight of which is Lemoine’s ‘100 Ramyeon’, a strangely mesmeric film of 100 artistic bowls of instant noodles. Each of the film’s frames could be an image in itself, and Lemoine succeeds in transforming the prosaic into art.
You will not find quaint still life studies in this exhibition. Instead you will be greeted with provocative and challenging works, which will confront your preconceptions and inhibitions. At times this exhibition can lack clarity, and it must be viewed in conjunction with the descriptions for the viewer to properly attain a sense of the overall theme. Nevertheless, SEEP II: Mirrors and Mires, achieves what it desires: it implores you to look closer, to find reason in its chaos.