Most reviews of the earlier work of Angela de la Cruz stressed its violent aspect. Her objects were seen as an attack on painting and were described as ‘mangled’, ‘crumpled’ even ‘flagrantly abused’. But the aggression was always undercut by a powerful sense of vulnerability.
I first saw her work at the Royal Festival Hall in 2004. Larger than Life was a vast shipwreck of a canvas which occupied the whole of the ballroom and according to the artist was ‘like a huge women who couldn’t dance and had fallen to the floor’. It was unforgettable.
‘Anxious furniture’ has become a kind of personal idiom. In the current show there are freestanding works, in which oddly shaped blocks perch unsteadily on bases with legs. New though are the stretchers which have been wrapped horizontally by thin rectangular strips. As you walk into the gallery these works catch your attention: at first they seem serene but this impression is dispelled as you move towards them. They start jittering and become fretful, as if some kind of argument is taking place.
From the beginning her work has packed an emotional punch. Now the underlying turmoil is still there but it has become less violent. This seems to be the start of an interesting new direction and I look forward to seeing what comes next.
Angela de la Cruz Bare is at the Lisson Gallery, 27 Bell Street until 15 August.