Tucked away in an unsuspecting business park in Dublin’s Southside, Ellis King offers an intriguing contemporary environment and gallery display space. Opening in 2014, the industrial warehouse turned white cube space offers a refreshing minimalist zone for both established and emerging artists to exhibit. The white walls are complimented by black flooring and a pointed roof complete with exposed beams and fluorescent lighting. Having more recently been divided into two separate display spaces, Ellis King often uses this division of space to host two simultaneous exhibitions. Approaching each section differently, the subdivision of the space enables the gallery to diversify the works, artists and themes on show. These two distinct display spaces can also both be devoted to an extensive collection of work by a singular artist, as is the case in the current show Grear Patterson’s Cereal Eater.
Entering Ellis King, a narrow hallway guides the viewer into the first gallery space, a spacious room decorated with a myriad of objects mounted on twenty white plinths. The first exhibition space explores an impressive range of media and materials across twenty-two individual artworks. The plinths are placed in the centre of the room, creating an interactive rectangular shape. Spaces between each artwork allow for the visitor to weave in and around Patterson’s intriguing displays, inspecting them from all angles. Beginning in a clockwise progression, we are first greeted by Eyes Over Flesh (2017). Comprised of a Cookie Monster cookie jar and a pocket telescope, the first artwork gives an insight into the mind and practice of Grear Patterson.
Patterson’s use of pop culture commodities as well as personal items probe into the artist’s childhood and adolescent memories and explore the complexities of identity, authority and personal experience throughout Cereal Eater. The diverse materials, objects and practices incorporated by Patterson in the exhibition offer a reflection of the convoluted intricacies often attributed to personal memory and identity. A combination of real and imagined, memory can become almost surreal as it is remembered. Throughout Patterson’s twenty sculptures many narratives and visual images are explored. Toy figurines, a mailbox, an AoL messenger conversation, a pinball machine, walkie talkies and Canadian goose feet are just some of the items you can expect to find while delving into the world of Grear Patterson’s personal journey and artistic practice. Many of the sculptures are self-evident such as Cookier for Aristotle (1695 Year Old Cookie) (2017) where a Pillsbury Dough Boy cookie jar dominates the stand, and I Promise (2017) and You’re Not Alone (2017) see General Electric walkie talkies placed directly opposite one another in the rectangular configuration. The collective sculptural pieces like Harrison’s Broken Arm (2017), Blackjack, Not Chess (2017), and Kelsey Ream & Flying Alone (2017) provoke the viewer’s sense of childlike curiosity. Inviting us to look closer and inspect, these more intricate works encourage us to return to a perhaps bygone fascination with toys and trinkets.
Moving into the second room, we are confronted by six large customized Printed Circuit Boards. Mounted on aluminum, the boards make a nod to video gaming culture and the presence it holds in many young people’s lives. Tucked away in a corner, Bedroom Solace (2017) also sees the enlargement of a common Americanized childhood pastime - baseball cards. The confined space recreates the atmosphere of a teenage bedroom, with posters covering the walls. Both the PCB boards and the baseball card posters alter the viewer’s understanding of size in relation to these objects. By enlarging these artworks Patterson almost shrinks the viewer and their perceptions. In doing so, he arguably transforms our viewpoint to that of a child, where things appear larger in comparison with our shortened height and smaller presence.
From retro objects and childhood ephemera, to crunching Cheerios under your feet, Cereal Eater challenges the viewer's preconceived notions about an art space. As the idea of the art space as an untouchable and unattainable sanctuary full of valuable and complex works gradually becomes outdated, we as viewers are still largely hesitant to interact with artworks unless explicitly informed to do so. Spaghetti Westerns and Nights Alone (2017) invites visitors to crunch, play, and eat (if you are brave enough) the one hundred boxes of Cheerios which cover a the smallest display space in Ellis King. Following a trail of crumbs and the smell of Original and Honey Nut Cheerios you are welcomed to enter the space. Spaghetti Westerns and Nights Alone confronts a number of your senses by immersing you in an enclosed space which starkly contrasts with the immaculate appearance of the rest of the gallery. For many, memories are frequently recalled through a certain sound, song, smell, taste. The versatility of memory and how they can re-enter our minds are beautifully reconstructed in Spaghetti Westerns and Nights Alone. The piece is accompanied by a audio visual piece entitled Cereal Eater (2005). The video which was shares the exhibition’s title was created by Patterson in his teens and records the friendship of two young men in a short dreamlike narrative.
With Cereal Eater Grear Patterson encourages a playful, interactive and inquisitive approach to his artworks and the gallery space. By using objects and imagery lifted from pop culture, much of the exhibition’s visual presence is familiar to visitors. Obliterating any aspect of pretentiousness associated with contemporary practice, Patterson creates a lively and mischievous space while exploring his own identity and personal memory through the selected works. Complementing the unconventional space and location of Ellis King, Grear Patterson challenges the visitor’s attitude towards the art space and his work through his interrogation into personal experience.
Cereal Eater runs until June 17.
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Words by Elly Collins
* Images marked courtesy of ellisking.net/grear-patterson-cereal-eater/