Ceramics and Architecture
David Mach has an exhibition – three years in the making – at the City Art Centre until the 26th October. I cannot recommend it highly enough. It certainly deserves the title a ‘body of work’, comprising three floors of large scale handmade collages, match-head sculptures [credit Alan Laughlin], and four larger-than-life crucified men formed from wire coathangers. That description makes it sound as if Mach has spread himself quite thinly in terms of techniques, but all the media are incredibly well executed.
The very strong theme is the King James Bible. The collages are absolutely massive, and so detailed they actually took my breath away. It’s exciting to see work that requires both time and craft. The sense of perspective, composition and colour are spot on, and keep the eye busily darting around the room, looking for more detail and trying to look at every corner of the work.
The subject isn’t neglected for the sake of technique. My favourite was the Money Lenders; a two storey monster collage exhibited in the stairwell. Against a background of the Sagrada Familia an explosion of bank notes rains from the sky over the assembled masses as sacks of coins are tipped over the ground, amongst burning piles of cash. The whole scene is reminiscent of a Bosch landscape, but more dynamic and less controlled.
Fascinatingly, Mach’s studio is being run from the top floor of the gallery, and his elves are working on The Last Supper. It looks like absolutely backbreaking work! At the back of the room is a pile of box files of subject, which are interesting in their own right.
credit to Lucy Robinson
Of course artists throughout history have used the rich subject of the Bible as inspiration – but I did have the same feeling of awe and confusion looking at the collages by Mach as I did on visiting the altarpieces by Bosch. Both have a busy-ness, and an imposing size and composition that demand the viewer’s attention, and both address the issue of a Christian ‘hell’ on Earth. Both take a very corporeal approach to the stories of the Bible, bringing them into everyday life; Bosch through the use of earthly settings, and Mach through the use of collaged material from journalistic sources.
If you don’t want to spend a fiver on an afternoon of pure enjoyment, do scroll through the images on the website, they are amazing.