Jim Lambie: ‘Answer Machine’ @ Sadie Coles HQ

Sadie Coles HQ presents the solo show of Glaswegian artist Jim Lambie. Titled Answer Machine, the show comprises eight brand new mixed media works of variable sizes, all spanning the gallery’s upper floor space.

Lambie’s exhibits are permeated with the element of music; three of his works (Answer Machine, Totally Wired and Jack Your Body) are assemblages of guitar leads, mono plug sockets, shirts, trousers and household gloss paint, all commingled on canvas. The centrepiece Ultrateque (Poppers remix) is an installation suspended from the ceiling by chains made of interconnecting safety pins, armed with single shoes (at either end of each chain) and sunglasses. Reminiscent of the previous identity of the space, this piece reflects back on the party atmosphere and nightclub culture. Next to it, a constellation of stepladders (Sunlight Here I am) have been liberated from their quotidian use and have been transformed into vertical coloured mirrors leaning against the white wall carrying suspended pottery of different shapes and size. Many Suns incorporates ten aluminium bicycle wheels into a wall sculpture and the totemic appearance of Shadow Dancing utilises a playful gathering of lampshades.

Lambie’s currently exhibited body of work has clear references to the objet trouvé and the Duchampian ready-made as well as the aesthetics of the Italian Arte Povera movement in the late 60s. Encompassing his own narrative, which noticeably derives from his recollections of the legendary club nights of the 1980s and 1990s, his show reverberates the pulse and the energy of his generation filtered through the prism of surrealism.

The employment of gloss paint (and the ensuing vinyl effect), distorted mirrors and other colourful surfaces evoke a post pop culture but, more than everything, they echo Lambie’s signature Zobop floor works. The monochromatic or colour vinyl tape applied to the floor as seen in recent installations such as those at MoMa (2008), Hayward gallery (2010), the Goss-Michael Foundation in Dallas (2011), Pearl LamGalleries in Hong Kong (2013) and the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia for this year’s 19th Sydney Biennale, are robust examples of his fascination with abstraction and the pattern of stripes.

The interaction and exuberance of stripes as previously surveyed by Piet Mondrian and then further explored by other artists such as Bridget Riley, Gene Davis, Ian Davenport and Rem Koolhaas helped Lambie evolve his own perception of expansion and transcend the pattern in the form of sculptural installations. Sunlight Here I am is perhaps the only piece at the Sadie Coles exhibition unswervingly redolent of this Zobop legacy.

And although the works currently on show encapsulate the verve of Lambie’s idiosyncrasy, it inadvertently lacks the dynamism of other samples of his oeuvre. They might have been created by an artist strongly influenced by music but they somehow appear inanimate, burdened in a mundane gallery environment. That palpable underlying psychological state of previous works is absent here but perhaps deliberately orchestrated to accentuate the identity change of the given locus. Kostas Prapoglou