Art & Photography

Jac Leirner: Hardware Silk

William Kherbek reviews the Brazilian artist’s new solo exhibition at White Cube’s Mason’s Yard site, where the medium is still the message

Jac Leirner Big 38 2013 Metal, plastic, wood and plexiglass 41 x 118 1/8 in. (104.2 x 300 cm) © Jac Leirner Photo: Ben Westoby Courtesy White Cube
Jac Leirner, Big 38, 2013 © Jac Leirner. Photo: Ben Westoby, courtesy White Cube

How can you go wrong with a title like Hardware Silk? It could be the title of the inevitable Rick Rubin produced comeback album of Phil Collins. You can almost see him on the cover holding a ruler, dressed in a suit made of cigarette rolling papers, “I’m back baby, like my smoking jacket?” Can’t you? Well, if you can’t, warning/suggestion, it’ll be much easier after seeing Jac Leirner’s eponymous show at the Mason’s Yard White Cube.

If the aforementioned Vision of Phil troubles your mind, don’t worry, 1980s soft rock doesn’t play a significant role in any of the actual work. In actual fact, the title is quite literal; there’s a lot of hardware on show and it’s a surprisingly eloquent medium. In the ground floor gallery in particular, Leirner finds a way to let materials of aesthetic creation speak. Works like 10 bamboo levels which consists of 10 rulers hanging in a column on the north wall of the Cube manage to produce maximum visual dialogue with minimal artistic manipulations. Yes, they are just 10 rulers hung on a wall, but they are commentary on minimalism do doubt. You can almost feel Donald Judd ‘s presence hovering somewhere in the white space, perhaps Sol LeWitt as well, but instead of seeing only the product of careful arrangement and planning, you’re seeing the tools as well. The medium is still the message, I guess.[/one_half]Big 38 also turns rulers into the stuff of composition, but this time the result is closer to something like wave forms in the digital audio programme. Its literalism resists metaphorisation and demands it; Leirners work is at its strongest in these unresolved, not entirely reasonable dialogues between modes of nomos, technology, materials and space.

There are some anthropomorphic variations on the same ideas downstairs which are a bit too much of a concession to representation to have the same generative quality. Ne’ertheless, the downstairs does boast the sublimely narrative Hardware Silk No.3 in which a wire divides the basement gallery in half. Suspended along the wire’s course are materials of all sorts; it’s a complex and engaging journey from one end of the hardware to the other, and then you find yourself at journey’s end in a room of sculptures, rulers with cigarette papers stuck on them in plexiglass. It’s all very humane and casual, no jacket required.

Jac Leirner: Hardware Silk runs until 6 July at White Cube, 25-26 Mason’s Yard, London, SW1Y 6BU