The McManus Galleries in Dundee offers a dreadfully cliché experience that promises a whale of a time with Nick Evans latest exhibition entitled The White Whale. Evans has created a sculptural installation in conjunction with the GENERATION PROJECT that celebrates 25 years of the development of Scottish Art. The project culminates in a generation of ideas, experiences and of prestigious art that the country has to offer. Nick Evans latest solo exhibition is inspired by the Gothic architecture and décor of the McManus building. The exhibition title ‘The White Whale” has deliberate mythical connotations. It relates to the Narwhal, which was hunted by Dundee whalers in the nineteenth century. The Narwhal’s long pointed ‘tusk ‘ was believed to belong to the magical unicorn.
Evans was influenced by “The Geometry of fears”- a group of sculptors that consisted of Lynn Chadwick, Eduardo Paolozzi and William Turnbull. They created twisted and spiked forms of the human figure post Second World War. Evans’ plastered humanoid forms lend to this distinctive style and are originally drawn from ethnographic sources. The sculptures appear as if floating in a fantasyland. They exist in their own distinctive environment scattered across the monochrome printed floor (that was replicated from a textile within the McManus’ collection). I am a very tactile person and I admire the artist’s limited use of material. The simplicity of the monochrome floor in conjunction with the white plaster sculptures and hints of wood throughout the gallery complement one another magically. It adds to this idea of being lost in a dream.
There are a few sculptures that stand out to me. “ Petrosphere” suggests a strange molecular structure whereas ‘Hunger’ that can be viewed from different angles insinuates two bodies bending over one another… highlighting the wanderings of a strange hallucinatory mind. My favourite sculpture is “Children of the sun’ where a light appears to sit on top of a human figure. The light was like a beacon calling out to the pursuers of the white whale. The story of Moby Dick represents a universe trapped by its protagonist’s subjectivities instead Evans’ exhibition is a refusal of the subjective. Evans argues that the development of each sculpture is a re-arrangement of form instead of focus on interpretative and symbolic value.
Within the high ceiling gallery, the sculptures appear like creatures rising up from the abyss. If you listen closely the sounds of a whale reverberates throughout the hall thanks to the thumps of the little children’s feet. This exhibition is definitely worth taking your children along to visit. They provide the best humorous responses when asked about Nick’s strange parallel universe of sculptures. When sitting on the gallery floor drinking in this strange dream, I want to imagine a dark misty night with the possibility of finding Moby Dick in a strange sea of monochrome.
The White Whale was a fantastic exhibition that allows your imagination to run wild through a sculptural dreamland. I highly recommend this exhibition and Evans’ work will be available to see until 31st August.