Review – The Zabludowicz Collection has commissioned the artist Matthew Darbyshire to recreate T Rooms an installation originally exhibited at Tramway in Glasgow. This new work builds on his previously successful concept, making modifications which fit more into the London urban-scape, but still play on the pastiche of familiar Glasgow and other 20th century design elements.
The exhibition has been installed within a labyrinth of printed hoardings. Some resemble modern city office buildings with lobbies sporting trendy Jacobsen chairs. Others pick out sections of post modernist arches in brick and glass. This installation successfully replicates the experience of walking into an urban financial district, complete with tube station, lobbies and designated smoking areas. The new works build upon his long-term collaborations with Rupert Ackroyd, Jacob Farrell, Owen Hatherley, Bob Hobbs and Scott King.
Darbyshire is a rehasher of many styles. He rebrands familiar contemporary design classics, puts them into a new context and repackages it as art. He does this with relish and authority. The retro furnishings and colour schemes are aspirational. Darbyshire’s assembled objects and flat colours snapped into Gilbert & George style frames are eye candy. He replicate tasteful domestic environments or room settings masterfully, while playing with a form of cliched hipness. His ‘Smoking Shelter’ 2012 merges C R Mackintosh with Bertoia in a statement that is both functional and witty. Apparently Darbyshire draws inspiration from novelists such as JG Ballard and Bret Easton Ellis and if this is the case, I can see some of this narration, particularly in work inspired by the set designs inhabited by the yuppie Patrick Bateman, in American Psyco. Darbyshire creates his sculptures in relation to a sector of the populations shopping habits. “We are what we buy, and use our belongings to project a desired image of ourselves” the artist has previously stated..
The vastness of 176, a former Methodist Church suits this type of installation. Assemblages of modern living become generic yet the objects are so recognisable and familiar that they give off a sense of comfort rather than challenge your aesthetic sensibilities. T Rooms is Darbyshire’s largest public exhibition to date. It includes film, photography, sculpture and printmaking. The environment is depicted as a wallpapered architectural space with objects and wall pieces. Its computer generated Trompe-l’œil printing with life-size proportions and details, allude to existing C R Mackintosh designs, creating a surreal nightmare of ‘Mockintosh’ architectural detail. The public are invited join in to fill this urban void and complete the installation, bringing it to life.
The original exhibition of T Rooms at Tramway, Glasgow, Jan–Mar 2012, was commissioned by Tramway and supported by the Henry Moore Foundation. This expanded version was commissioned by the Zabludowicz Foundation.
Matthew Darbyshire 4 October–2 December 2012 Zabludowicz Collection 176 Prince of Wales Road London, NW5 3PT