Apples are never Oranges

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You should never do it. But I did. It’s too easy and tempting. I mean you should never compare apples and oranges. It’s a truism in any discipline and of course you should never do it in art. All art is apples and oranges. Numerous varieties of each and then of course there are all the lemons, kumquats and strawberries, kiwis, guava and mangos of the art world.

I had come from the immersive powerful 360˚ art installation of Richard Mosse (my second visit) to a more minimalist exhibition of Andrea Büttner. It was quite a contrast. Indeed there were actual apples involved in the latter. A pile of them, placed carefully in a corner of the gallery space formed one of the exhibits.

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There is a theme of poverty in this exhibition. A visitor sat on an improvised Spartan bench, a couple of 2×4 planks placed on upturned milk crates, to consider matters. This it transpired was one of the exhibits. There are clear allusions and references to early Christian art forms in these paintings and large woodcuts. An outline shape of a tent or igloo could be a beehive hut or monastic dwelling. There are signs of praying monks and a simple Madonna. A palette of coloured cloth to indicate that of illuminated manuscripts as well as actual direct reference to stained glass with some paintings executed onto glass. The theme of simplicity is continued in an image potatoes or peasant food. A primary coloured painted corner niche was all ready for its attendant saintly statue.

Art should not always be supplied to you as an open truth on a plate. It should make you work for your mental repast. But sometimes hunger pains mean we miss what’s on offer and in this case I left feeling decidedly hungry for some real substance. For that I will return one more time to Richard Mosse.

Andrea Büttner at the Douglas Hyde Gallery, Trinity College, Dublin continues until 19th March.

Photos: Andrea Büttner, Installation photographs, January 2014, Douglas Hyde Gallery, courtesy of the artist and Hollybush Gardens, London

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