NiCOLETTi re-opened its doors to the public in early December, continuing its programme with ‘Loreum’, an exhibition by American artist Tyler Eash. Having completed an MFA at Goldsmiths, University of London last year, Eash now lives and works in Mexico. His practice encompasses film, painting, sculpture, writing and sound art as a means to disclose thoughts on having, and holding onto, identity. These works are unapologetically jumbled, or topsy-turvy, as if badly downloaded from the internet, becoming more encrypted as they travel through digital space and enter into the physical world. These works, across painting, sculpture, film and photography, are a reimagining of things Eash has encountered on the internet, in his mind’s eye and in daily life.
Blending together a disharmonious group of objects, styles and subject matter, ‘Loreum’ is Eash’s most ambitious show to date.The space at NiCOLETTi is littered with Eash’s multi-faceted works — disorganised to the degree that it confirms a particularity, like an invisible map or key. Eash’s work is challenging, but inviting. The works offer a proposition for whoever chooses to look. Eash’s artefacts are constructed from snake hide, wasp nests and smoke machines, as well as more conventional art materials. The title ‘Loreum’ — a word derived from ‘lore’, but made singular with the suffix ‘-um’ — pays homage to Eash’s interest in mythology, ritual and story-telling. More significantly, perhaps, ‘Loreum’ is personified; it is “the labyrinthine identity of a body becoming myth”, wherein “becoming” is analogous with the process of making an artwork.
The last time Eash showed his work in London was with b.Dewitt gallery in 2019, when he filled the now-closed event space, The Workshop, with an installation of props and artefacts that had been used in the making of his film ‘Mountain’ (2019). ‘Loreum’ is the name of Eash’s exhibition at NiCOLETTi, but it’s also the beginning of a URL address (loreum.net) that collates five past works — including ‘Mountain’ (2020) — in an html document, which can be seen as a set of appendices, or directions for the show. In Eash’s ‘Mountain’, the very blue eyes of a horse attempt to evade the viewer’s gaze while the artist dances a slow-motion go-go routine in a separate frame. A new film, also called ‘Loreum’ (2020), continues in this tradition of both documenting the making of Eash’s works and transforming their process into performance.
‘Loreum’ the exhibition is two-fold, divided by NiCOLETTi’s two galleries. ‘Tower’ (2020) can be viewed from the street outside: the long, hollowed-out skin of a python that has been stretched into a sculpture is placed in front of an oil painting titled ‘Windshield’ (2020) that is quite simply a depiction of a sports car windshield. In parallel to the window of the gallery that looks out into the street, ‘Windshield’ is telling of the artist’s desire to be neat and look presentable to the outside world, hiding the disunity between the first and second rooms. Protruding handles on Eash’s sculpture ‘Rearview’ (2020) are seen to be jutting out of NiCOLETTi’s walls, plastered into place and yet seemingly ready to be activated at any moment. The neat layout of the white cube format tempts disruption.
Comprised of three essential works — ‘Tower’, ‘Windshield’ and ‘Rearview’ (2020) — the first gallery gives a false impression of what’s to come in the second part of Eash’s exhibition. This is perhaps fitting for an artist known to depict things that should not be taken on first impression. As visitors step through an arched doorway and into the second gallery, they come face-to-face with ‘Horn’ (2020) — Eash’s painting of an eerie hybrid of a swan and brass instrument that acts as a precursor to the coagulating sights and sounds of the rest of ‘Loreum’.
Eash’s penchant for using choreography and movement as a mode of construction is made clear by the swimmer in his latest film, ‘Loreum’ (2020) — the apparent focus of the eponymous show. Images of the artist are shown overhead on a TV-monitor encrusted by sea-shells. The TV faces away from the viewer as they walk into the space. We’re surrounded by three oscillating fans, their motion disrupted by dressage bridles, horse bits and reigns. Things are stuck, trapped, dislodged and imperfect in this room. The beautiful horse who featured in Eash’s film, ‘Mountain’ (2019), is referenced by the electronic appliances, dominated by diamanté-covered fixtures. The sound of Lola Lourdes’s sad, distorted music, made in collaboration with Eash, is only exacerbated by readings of Eash’s own confrontational writings.
The lack of organisation in the second gallery is disorientating at first. With no clearly intended layout or route, viewers are at liberty to measure their own level of attention in response to each work and area. If you make it to the far side of the room, edging beneath the TV-monitor and past the flute occasionally omitting dry-ice, you may find one possible locus of the exhibition: a discord between artist, artwork and art world. The sunglasses of ‘Helmet”’(2020) are the exhibition’s all-seeing eyes, responding to and confronting the viewer’s gaze. In other words, the glass of the spectacles mirror the glass in the front window: an alternative view of the show, remarkable in its joyful lack of cohesion.