Karen Woodbury Gallery
15 October- 8 November 2008
Dead men don’t talk. Sam Jinks new exhibition of work now showing at Karen Woodbury gallery is no exception. His work, lifeless but incredibly realistic sculptures of people (flesh, hair, faces), laid out on white slabs for the viewers voyeuristic pleasure. The frozen human form is captured by Jinks (in part, or in whole) for our eyes to become lazy, to wander, and drift casually over the shells of people we don’t know. This priverlige the viewer is granted is by way of a few different factors, one of these reasons is the subdued and demure of the sculptures own eyes which are either politely closed (as is with the ‘wallwork’ faces) or looking downward, seemingly defeated (as is with the two full body sculptural works).
The scale of the work doesn’t overpower the viewer either. The work, and the space it consumes inside the gallery does not threaten the viewers own scale. Even the presentation of the work allows the viewer comfortable viewing of lifelike, intimate details. The faces, which are almost like studies are hung at a easily observable height, much like paintings and are viewed similarly, despite their dimensionality whilst the full body sculptures lay both below us, pinned to the plinth via a combination of exhaustion, gravity and judging by their expression a significant state of apathy. All these nuances within the work do cultivate an atmosphere of guilt free observance, looking upon the flaws and exposure of flesh but there is one overlying, greater cause that gives the viewer this freedom and it was difficult to pinpoint because it is so evident and that is the soulless, lifeless nature of the sculptures.
Despite their triumph of being an uncannily realistic representation of the human shell, they are dead to the viewer and don’t have or establish any personal connection. Which is good isn’t it? If that personal, intimate connection was there, strung between the viewer and the work like an invisible thread of empathy and understanding: we would be embarrassed of our gazes, looking away out of respect, not wanting to pry, one would not be able to view the detail, and skilled handiwork Jinks has to offer us.
(there is a fantastic, FREE, full colour, 8 page, folded panel, catalogue available with a written article by Mark Feary on the exhibition titled: “Coma”)