Freestyle Monumental At The Talbot Rice Gallery

By Kate Day | 05 March 2003

Left: Calf (2003): reinforced plastic, wood veneer, jesmonite, carpet and paint.

Kate Day freestyled her way across the Scottish capital to take in a top exhibition.

Freestyle Monumental, a selection of work by Kenny Hunter, one of Scotland's foremost sculptors is on at the Talbot Rice Gallery in Edinburgh until March 29.

This exhibition of wowing sculpture excites the eyes and triggers the imagination with a sense of humour and playfulness that gradually reveals underlying political motivations.

Initially appearing to be easily recognisable, the sculptures depict popular icons with a familiarity aided by a similarity to oversized children's toys.

Right:Home Guard (2003): reiforced plastic, jesmonite and paint. Silk screen canvas flags.

It soon becomes apparent, however, that as much thought and consideration has been put into the reasoning behind these magnificent objects as has been applied to their skilful craftsmanship.

The sculptures look as though they have been snapped out of a mould along with a thousand other identical replicas. Calf (2003) could have been lifted straight out of a child's farmyard. A smoothness and plastic-like quality is achieved by Hunter's dedication to perfection and his use of glass re-enforced plastic as a medium.

Hunter uses the qualities of this medium to play with ideas. In Time and Space Died Yesterday (2000), a wall mounted piece, a rocket is seen exploding into the side of a building in a comic-book style.

Its toy-like quality is still apparent but a toy wouldn't explode into the gallery wall in the way that the sculpture appears to - except in the imagination of the person playing with it. The rocket is neither life-sized nor toy-sized, which further enhances its abstraction from reality.

Left: Dub Monument (2003): reinforced plastic, plywood, MDF, wood and paint.

The artist seems to have an almost psychic ability to predict future events combined with a natural sense of the zeitgeist and a deep appreciation of history. Links have been made between Time and Space Died Yesterday and Citizen Firefighter (2001) - a bronze which stands in Glasgow's Gordon Street- and the events of September 11.

Upstairs in the gallery a mass of objects and images from Hunter's studio are presented, including childhood toys, casts from classical sculpture and blown-up photographic images of Hunter's public sculptures. This further implies Hunter's desire to present some sort or truth born from a wealth of intense research.

The comical yet poignant inclusion of an image of a monkey in a space suit, shown within Hunter's research, is an example of his ability to pick iconic images and impart on them a meaningful resonance.

The monkey seems to look out from the photo in the same way that Marilyn Monroe looks out from an Andy Warhol print - with an innocence onto which the viewer imposes a sense of tragedy.

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