There is something deliciously naughty in reviewing, for a gay lifestyle magazine, an exhibition in which the first things that strikes the eye are two rows of 10 phallic sculptures made of glass. On closer inspection, we realised that they were in fact sculptures of water droplets frozen in time. Far from being disappointed, we walked amongst them fascinated by each individual shape as they seemed to be mid-morph.
Paul Fryer’s exploration in this exhibition concerns science and religion and how the two can exist together. In the main space, Fryer’s sculptures sit serenely, elegantly lit much like a cathedral interior. The title reminds us of Tom Robbins’ ‘ I believe in everything, nothing is sacred, I believe in nothing, everything is sacred’ which is possibly more of a clue as to what Fryer is examining in his art – what it means to want aspects of both our spiritual world and our scientific world to exist and be expressed. The 10 glass sculptures, we are told, were commissioned by Fryer to the oldest producing Murano glassblowers in Venice. Each piece is a product of years of experimentation in trying to depict the beauty of a moment far too brief for the eye to see.
On the walls are rectangular marble tablets, with lines etched into them which form a picture that can only be witnessed from certain angles. Seen from anywhere but head on, we might think them only as slabs. A nude woman, a portrait of a lady, a staple of any artist’s work, chemical symbols; the viewer has to work to make out what they’re seeing. The effect is satisfying.
In a glass case is Book (Redacted), an antiqued book with all its words completely blocked out. We are told it’s a bible yet there is nothing to read, each line has been carefully filled-in with black marker to render it illegible. Sacred? Nothing is. What is religion if we can’t read it?
In Evelyn’s Yard, Fryer’s pieces are fired in a frenetic light display which is both compelling and painful to look at. Given an industrial, rave-in-a-basement environment in complete contrast to the space on the ground floor, the three pieces are joined in the more man-made expressions of his exploration.
Queen of the Sea is set on the wall, brazen and naked, staring down at her congregation (or punishers?) with a most challenging expression, conjuring up images of slavery, voodoo goddesses and sacrifice. Another book is presented, this time on the floor, with hobo symbols etched into it, a language that is unknown to the everyday; and Your God Here made from a found LED light display, exposed to witness the wiring of one of our other gods – technology.
Paul Fryer might believe in everything, seeing God and Science in everything around him, and this exhibition brings those elements to the fore for our own questioning.
Nothing Is Sacred continues until 13 March