Ces McCully – Mary & Me at Rhodes Contemporary Art – Cas McCully’s latest show is playful, it really isn’t fun, not quite, fun isn’t the right word, fun is too throwaway and these pieces are certainly not throwaway. This is serious, playfully good but Cas McCully feels serious about it and you’re left thinking she isn’t quiet being as tongue in cheek as we’re being told is she? And all the letters are the same colour in each piece, we all kind of noticed that at the same time. A solo show from Australian artist Ces McCully, now based in France, “McCully’s new series of works are inspired by the lockdowns we have all experienced, and how isolation and dependence on social media for contact influenced her and our collective psyche”. For once you kind of want to know a bit more about her thinking here when so often you don’t want to hear from an artist. Most of the time you want the actual art to do all the taking, here you do want to hear from her, hear what she has to say, what she was thinking. Are her pieces really just bits of fun? Are they really just pointing at the ridiculousness of the situations we find ourselves in and the thoughts we have? Are her words “brutally honest and tongue in cheek”? And for that matter just how “playful” are the placings on the words and those identically coloured letters? This really is a show that leave you wanting more, wanting to know more. Wanting more is a surely a good thing? Or maybe it is just the fun we’re told it is? No, never just fun, surely never just fun?
And so we’re told of the works and the words that “they are not to be taken too seriously”, surely they are though? Surely they are, why else do it? No one ever makes art just for the fun of it, making art is a serious business. Ces McCully’s words bask in the glow of the same (fun-less) social media we’ve all been left with during the long hours, days and weeks of lockdown. They’d make for good memes, maybe they already are? T hey probably are, they do feel a little strange on a cold Thursday evening in February in what is shall we politely say not the greatest space to view art that we’ve ever been in? Rhodes Contemporary is an intimate space, a rather cold nondescript space if the truth be told. The walls close in on the art, it feels like the kind of that was once a photocopy shop or something, it isn’t the greatest place to view art (however friendly the hosts may be), the art has to work hard in here, not that it is the worse place ever and not that we’re complaining and somehow Ces McCully’s work does fit in here and okay yes, it is fun, but surely there’s more to it than just that? Of course there is, surely?
The exhibition title Mary & Me is “a nod to the confessional nature of the works. By putting these statements out there, McCully asks the viewer for forgiveness and understanding. Perhaps seeing ourselves in these works, we feel a little less alone in our thoughts”. We’re told “McCully’s choice of bright colours and textures adds to the fun, whimsical nature of the works. Almost childlike, harking back to primary school days and children’s TV; the block colours add an innocence to the statements, reminding the viewer that as brutally honest as they are, they are not to be taken too seriously”. Not buying that, I’m taking them and her very seriously. Positively so… (sw)
Ces McCully – Mary & Me is at Rhodes Contemporary Art – 24th Feb until 26th March 2022. Rhodes Contemporary Art ls at 42 New Compton Street, London, WC2H 8DA. The gallery is open Monday to Saturday, 11am until 6pm (midday until 6pm on Saturdays.
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