Lawrence Preece offers workout for imagination with Limber Gym at Meter Room

By Mark Sheerin | 05 October 2011
Colour photo of a gallery filled with figurative pink sculptures
Lawrence Preece, Limber Gym (2011). Exhibition view© all rights reserved
Exhibition: Limber Gym – Lawrence Preece, Meter Room, Coventry, until October 23 2011

"Imagination is a muscle," said director Luis Bunuel. "It needs to be exercised." As if taking this famous dictum to heart, a new show in Coventry presents artworks in the context of what is being called the Limber Gym.

If nothing else it should exercise your eyeballs. Freestanding works compete for your attention with wall mounted paintings and directional signs hung from the ceiling.

Two tall three-dimensional stickmen in raspberry red may be the most immediate work. But visitors will be quick to notice the smaller pink figures, skulking in the corner or working out on the floor, in what must be a compromised position.

The signs exhort you to "Eat Fruit", depilate, or promise "Everlasting Arms". One points to "Exercise Shelving", a reminder that we are round the corner from a city centre branch of Ikea.

Then there are a number of apparati around which your retina can bounce. Although these hint at practical usage, they also point to modernist sculpture. So one has to ask if that heritage is made up of no more than cerebral pieces of gym equipment.

colour photo of two red figurative statues side by side in a gallery
Lawrence Preece, THE DEITIES, 2011, installation view© all rights reserved
Several paintings offer respite and the chance to stand still for moments at a time. A saggy-breasted gorilla with a skipping rope is a none too flattering reflection of one's mental agility. A pink antelope stood on its head introduces mystery.

In the Meter Room corridor, six photos show artist Lawrence Preece in performance. He wields books like kettlebells and looks serious enough about the project's attempt to "lose weight by looking".

At first it seems that Limber Gym is a satirical look at gym culture and, beyond that, perhaps the cult of body beautiful and me-culture which arose in the 1980s and 1990s. But equally, this show might have the art world in its sights.

"All intellectual exercises are to be discouraged," reads the press release. It also tells us the management cannot take responsibility for the distress of  "becoming aware of pointlessness".

Armed with this piece of paper, a visit to Limber Gym is certainly a workout for your sense of humour. The organisers could surely have said more about this show. But sadly the catalogue appears attached to an axe shaft, resting on a chair upon which you cannot sit.

  • Open 1pm-5pm Friday-Sunday. Admission free.

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