To speak of finials is to speak of a kind of completion, or rather objects that signify a kind of completion; we usually find finials perched on the apex of a roof or the corner of a building, an ornamental flourish in wood, stone or metal that, in architectural terms, works something like a full stop. They mark the end of a structure, creating a discreet state out of an organisation of materials and designating this organisation as resolved or complete.
How then are we to understand the term Infinials? This is after all our entrance to George Eksts first London solo exhibition, at the Tin Type gallery in Farringdon. Looking at it and thinking on it a bit, he's given us a normal, everyday word, but done something with it that opens up its meaning. We have a new word that complicates its root. Straight away there is a visual and phonetic echo of infinity, and so we have two concepts - the complete and the endless - logically opposed but working around each other in the same space.
Much of Eksts' work functions through simple but crucial gestures like this that seek to explore and impact upon the generation of meaning through objects and forms while drawing out the contingency of this meaning at the same time. Three State Solution is a work made up two found iron flagpoles, about a metre and a half long with a single silk flag attached to both and hanging down between them. What does this do? Both flag poles are used, so they fulfil their purpose, but they share the same flag, and so they're used as part of a construction that defeats this purpose by making it circular and rendering it absurd. The gallery literature refers to how this 'generates a self-negating sign'. I suppose it does, that's one way of putting it, but I found that, in the moment of my encounter with this work in the gallery space, it was most captivating as a smartly constructed and elegant sculptural investigation. Eksts' intervention on these found materials is economical and effective, it's clear that he is intelligently working upon our comprehension of the uses and meanings of these materials, but it felt satisfying to just let these ideas revolve in possibility around the work without identifying a singular logic of description.
It is this certain sensibility to materials that anchors the show for me. It drew me in to the works and made me sympathetic to the possibilities of meaning and conceptual exploration beyond the formal. A Frame is a work that realises this impressively again, with a frame described by a large wall drawing made with overlapping strips of hand-dyed cotton ribbon. The work essentially exists as an abstract shape, a soft, intricate construction that at the same time contains reference to a more solid version of itself, scaffolding perhaps, or at least something we expect to be physically reliable and provide support for other materials. It's this latter knowledge that speaks loudest around the work, but it's made to share space with what you see: Eksts has relieved this frame of its responsibilities, making it significant in of itself, in its own shape, its organisation and the nature of its construction.
There are works here you have to work harder for and there are some I'm not sure about. Eksts has included two of his 'Endless Videos', segments of seamlessly looped footage that create continuous action out of what would otherwise be the temporary everyday. I appreciate Eksts' working and thought and what he intends for these videos to acheive, but I didn't find much interesting or useful beyond this initial play. I was also unsure of what to do with the various realities that blocked in the background to the exhibition. It's easy and common for art works to be dressed in the political, the social, the historical, in an effort to absorb some gravitas but without displaying the intelligence to do anything beyond the cosmetic. There's a fine balance to negotiate, but I felt there was always something consistent and purposeful in what Eksts was doing. In some works he makes use of the baggage his materials carry, in others it becomes a refuse to his inquiry. But this is something each individual should consider for themselves.
This exhibition didn't give me something neat to take away, but it left me with a set of strong feelings and impressions that have stayed with me and kept me thinking since. I recommend giving it what you've got and seeing what you get out of it.
Images of the exhibition can be found here and here.