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Craig Mulholland - Plastic Casino

Craig Mulholland’s show Plastic Casino, at Sorcha Dallas (and a former sweatshop on Osbourne St.) is an absolute corker.

Artistic Consolation

Artistic Consolation - Craig Mulholland, 2004

I’ll update this post with an extended version of my review for The List, after the issue comes out next week. Since Craig gave me a CD of slides of the show, I couldn’t resist jumping the gun by posting an image.

Update: And here’s the wee review - I haven’t had a chance to expand on it as promised.

Plastic Casino is a dense thing. To simply list the influences and allusions Craig Mulholland has drawn together at Sorcha Dallas and in a former sewing factory space would take up most of the current issue [of The List].

In amongst the paintings, sculptures, murals and video works, though, there are recurring elements that provide a clue to the underlying structure of the show.

First comes a pair of paintings - Grey Ecology and Circuses & Bread - both depicting stubbed out cigarettes. The ashtrays are rendered in a knowingly ham-fisted photorealist style, the ash is Cubism-by-numbers, and fat Pop outlines are thrown in for good measure. Then there’s the artists’ palettes, painted over with hints of art history, from Suprematist geometrics to cartoonish speech bubbles. Finally, an arrangement of blocks is reworked, formally linking dystopian cityscapes seen from above, architectural maquettes and the agency of the human hand.

Add to that the presentation of paintings on squat plinths that practically ooze irony, and it begins to look as if Mulholland is sticking up two fingers in the face of a century of art history and saying, ‘Hey, Painting! Come and have a go if you think you’re hard enough!’

There’s much else to think on besides, from nods to the unconventional space’s status as a former sweatshop to a queasy examination of consumerism, but this show is about an artist engaging with his influences, mixing allusion and cynical appropriation.

There’s a fine line between hubris and chutzpah, and Plastic Casino is just on the right side of it.

Posted at 4pm on 17/06/04 by Jack Mottram to the art, art and culture category.
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