The Unlimited Dream Company
Hannah Barry Gallery
Richard Butler, Stevie Dix, Oliver Dook, Angelique Heidler,
Lewis Henderson, Ralph Hunter-Menzies, George Rouy, Rosie Grace Ward
UNTIL 13th JANUARY
“You can lean against us, we’re quite real.”
In J.G. Ballard’s 1979 novel, The Unlimited Dream Company, protagonist Blake explores an exotic universe after he survives a plane crash (from a plane he stole), emerging after a struggle from the ruins beneath the surface of the River Thames to a topsy turvy version of the suburb of Shepperton, which comes complete with his new powers to heal the sick and fly. It becomes unclear whether he really ever survived the crash at all and whether the whole thing is some sort of life flashed before my eyes death sequence. He is the ultimate unreliable narrator, his existence itself is dubious, and his identity questionable.
Hannah Barry has named her latest exhibition after this novel, and presents us with eight artists (or maybe 8 unreliable narrators) that explore the seductive edges of contemporary life. Like the novel, it is a succession of images held together in a unifying landscape- yet totally surreal in its mixture of reality with artificiality, all of which go totally unexplained, yet leave you gently unnerved.
Behind Rosie Grace Ward’s overflowing fake blood in Tetsuo (deriving from the Japanese horror film) Geoge Rouy’s ghostly looking figures emerge from the wall. Despite being in shades of red, they almost melt into the deep blue backgrounds whilst appearing vulnerable and not a little uncomfortable, confined to their spaces in a confusion between inner and outer worlds as they peer into and through the viewer. Tower, in contrast, depicts a glowing pink swan, which reads to me as having an undercurrent of a mythological Leda and the Swan type narrative. Stories seem to underpin these works, just as Ballard’s Blakean novel underpins the exhibition, in a way that continually treads an uneasy fictionality.