contemporary art,  david teager-portman,  fiona morris,  modern art,  saatchi

Innately grounded: David Teager-Portman by Mark M. Whelan

Teager-Portman’s work, as long as I have known it, has possessed an innately grounded and formal essence that boasts a deeply Northern soul. His works display an uncomplicated, worker-man-like authenticity in their overall aesthetic. Everything is needed, nothing wasted and every part has been mindfully mulled over and thought out. There is something of a fifties attitude, when one had to make do. When you re-patched, re-painted, re-hashed, and that was enough to simply get a job done. Inherently the works cling on to this kind of a past. In this series, these components combine with references to passing Northern industries and dated domestic settings that remind me of my nana’s house, and the grandeur of materials like brass and dark woods are polished and rightfully respected. Any aesthetic complications are kept to a minimum. Interestingly, though, in this collection nothing remains in one place, or one time. Instead, transportation of events through time and place seem to be a common theme. Ideas revolve between works in a melting pot. There is a strong concern for the future, for reading and influencing the nature of events to come; either through harnessing the reflective and refractive properties of materials like glass, or by attempting to reconstruct, or re-locate, or re- connect. Time is also looped and bent to fit a certain vision. There is the sense that so much of past and present and future is there to pull together and manipulate. The result of which is sculptures that feel at odds, in one way or another, with the world, themselves and us. Notes of dischord ring out and things are caught slightly off key. In this exhibition, what appears straight forward never actually is: pairs, duplicates, mirrors; renovation, reproduction, reinvention; the imagined and unconscious mixed with memory and reconstruction, a history that continues to exist; disconnection from place and origin due to human acts of removal; the cold absence of death, and the eerie presence of things remaining. A bleakly empty tone resonates throughout the space, so that we feel it inside us. Internally, we are affected. Overall, a rich host of ideas and themes are drawn together into pieces that defy being pinned down, that defy being completely identified. We relate to the familiar sides to them but are constantly kept at a distance. They are works that lead you into their own peculiar narratives, histories and visions. There are clues to find, truths to try to unpick, so that once inside them, as sculptures, they become only more intriguing. ‘Viscount’ This wreckage from before is part cobbled together, part definite. An unfinished reconstruction that haunts and uproots man’s sense of time. A journey into memory and history; a narrative plagued with inheritance, heritage and an uncanny domesticity. Part derelict, there are clues to unlock through this attempt to rebuild and reuse. A common hearth becomes a passageway and the sculpture holds like a raft, the transportation through time enhanced. What is this place, uncovered? A dank spell of unease, unrest and uncertainty leave an eerie impression. At the centre of this framed stasis a glassy eye appears to lock and contain the flow we bring, and the world surrounding. A source to bend our present myth, it follows us round and traps us in.
‘Isolated Incident’ A cut-out, a ghostly silhouette. The uncomplicated, calculated neatness of a rectangle of cold cement. The branches feel haunted by their history: this tree was windswept. Bits of rubbish, of everyday, attach like stragglers: lonely and empty and useless. A wasteland of branches. A lodged scrap of wreckage, the detective’s clue: death may be clear but the shifts in time add all kinds of confusion.

(Text by Fiona Morris Independent contemporary art writer, text for exhibition at the NewBridge Project)

With thanks Mark M. Whelan
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