Exhibition review: Meat

An ambitious show stymied by its own subject matter

★★★

Meat is a collaboration between German artists Christian Lemmerz and Norbert Tadeusz. Lemmerz contributes three large, white marble sculptures, complemented by a series of drawings from Tadeusz, both nominally addressing the topic of ‘meat’ as it has evolved as a subject throughout the history of Western art.


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It’s not hard to imagine an interesting exhibition conflating meat with human form using traditional media like white marble and oil paint. Meat, however, falls victim to its own extreme subject: several large paintings by Tadeusz meant as centrepieces for the show were rejected by the Chinese Culture Bureau, and are bloodlessly replaced with blank, white canvases.


Faurschou’s space is split into one larger anterior gallery, with a smaller gallery behind. The first space houses Lemmerz’s life-size sculptures. These deliver some thought-provoking content, miming Classical form in the depiction of atrocity and devastation: here, a pile of exquisitely rendered, severed limbs; there, a woman’s head atop a rack of animal ribs. The power of Lemmerz’s literal juxtaposition of man with meat is dampened by its context: the blank canvases distract and subtract from the jarring force of his work. Oddly, no curatorial explanation is given for this radical, forced revision of the content.


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The viewer gets a dash of colour when moving into the smaller posterior gallery. Tadeusz, robbed of his paintings, is reduced to a series of sketches that come off more as under-wrought Francis Bacon studies than a fresh spin on painting rotted flesh. They are hung with more blank canvases standing in for censored works, injecting an unwanted feeling of emptiness to the show overall. More meat is needed on these bones.

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