‘All known all white bare white body fixed one yard legs joined like sewn. Light heat white floor one square yard never seen. White walls one yard by two white ceiling one square yard never seen. Bare white body fixed only the eyes only just. Traces blurs light grey almost white on white . Hands hanging palms front white feet heels together right angle…..’
Samuel Beckett ‘Endnote, ping’
A lot of artists claim to be influenced by Samuel Beckett and it can be quite irritating. In the case of Ian Kiaer it is more convincing and also more specific. As people will realise, the title of the show is also the title of a short story by Beckett, which is generally regarded as industrial strength Beckett This story was described by David Lodge as ‘the rendering of the consciousness of a person confined in a small, bare, white room, a person who is evidently under extreme duress’. But if the work in this show is all about pain, it is not flung in your face.
We are also told that his investigations included the philosopher Michael Marber on plants and the architecture in California in the 1970s,in particular the buildings of Peter de Bretteville, many of which are made largely of glass. This makes Kaier’s work sound as if it is weighed down by a heavy burden of research. In fact it is remarkably light to the point where some of it is actually a buoyant.
An acid yellow teardrop shape, half filled with air, swings gently from a corner. On the floor lies a bent yellow pipe , a couple of feet away from a small transparent structure, that makes one think of an assault course for little animals. The paintings that are part of the piece are lovely, with abstracted foliage shapes and a delicate tracery of other marks.
Ian Kiaer has won several prizes, most recently a Leverhulme prize for painting in 2018 and, on the basis of this show, it is easy to see why. But it is also an energising and delightful experience. Do go and see for yourself.
Ian Kaier: ‘Endnote, ping’ is at the Alison Jacques gallery 16-18 Berners Street, London W1T 3LN until March 9.