Tuesday, May 17, 2011

REVIEW:Overkill- Sam Songailo

Visual Art is a mostly tamed beast, its passive and inert physical characteristics, mean that it is easily imprisoned within frames and locked behind a glass barrier so that the viewing public stare upon it whilst it is held against the wall. Sam Songailo’s painted work that in part comprises ‘Overkill’ is anything but tame, it is passive and inert, as is most 2D work that utilises inanimate objects such as paper or canvas stretched on timber frames as a platform, but these paintings have outgrown restrictive frames in order to both tower above and engulf the viewer.

Songailo’s untitled panels fill the gallery walls from floor to ceiling, taking over the very structure that houses it, comparatively, Songailo’s work is to the gallery, as a parasite is to the host. The work easily surpasses the walls existence and now appears to support the ceiling; it is a patterned visual virus of growth via self replication and repetition.

The same panels are displayed flat on the floor in another section of the gallery, as though the area has become infected, converting the ground to Songailos block pattern contagion. This simple visual pattern, like a virus, is a relatively simple form, a composition of brick like patterns that is a clear nod to the constructive particles ‘tetris’ and other 8bit games from a now dead decade, but the aesthetic lives on.

Overkill is not just dominance via the enveloping two dimensional visual virus, in the centre of the gallery sits a large white dome, its allegiance is uncertain: it’s either a bastion of escape or a destructive tumour akin to the infection occupying the most of the walls and floor. Its interior is a sci-fi igloo: metallic floor coverings reflect ultraviolet lights.

The structures motives, as to whether it is a protector or predator, seem ominously vague. Once within the belly of the dome, an individual is protected but simultaneously cut off from the rest of reality, sensorially deprived, a noticeably and dramatic shift from the visually onslaught in the rest of the space.

Songailo even manages to transfer his patented visual virus to visitors as every exhibition invite is a self adhering sticker and replica of his work, meaning the work has the opportunity to bleed out of the gallery and onto street walls, skateboards or bus stops, to name a couple of likely locations out of the infinite number of places that they could end up.

Thankfully the world is inhabited by many visual beasts of different aesthetic qualities, shapes, colours and forms, so the likelihood of Songailo's unique strain achieving cultural pandemic proportions is slim. Variety of will, as always, continue to flourish.