Wednesday 4 February 2009

'Pink... You Stink'

Melinda Young's beautiful catalogues have all been snapped up (as expected) - gorgeously printed (free) catalogues don't last long here at CVHQ! In case you weren't one of the lucky few, here is the first of 2 essays that may be found in Mel's accompanying exhibition catalogue.
Pink… You Stink

My dad thinks he’s pretty funny, and in fact he is, in a slightly absurd way. And so I spent my childhood subjected to his abstract humour, one manifestation of which was putting on a silly voice and saying ‘Pink. You stink’ whenever the colour was mentioned. What the hell did this mean? Pink is the colour of roses and bubble gum. It’s a girl’s colour. How could it ever smell bad? As well as being annoying, my father’s catch phrase made no sense. How could something sweet and lovely be pungent and unpleasant? How could something be beautiful and ugly?

I had forgotten all about dad’s weird saying until I was introduced to Melinda Young’s collection of pink objects. Pulsing, visceral conglomerations, they are at once arresting in their beauty and just a little bit icky. Like strange sea creatures or disembodied organs, Young’s creations are dangerously ‘alive’ – living, growing, and feeding on themselves. Rubies and pearls are swallowed by globs of wax, crystals push out of the surface and delicate fringes sprout from the edges… and all of them pink, pink, pink.

The incongruity of these beautiful/ugly works is echoed in their materials and production. Precious gems are coupled with inexpensive casting wax; and while the pieces appear roughly clumped together, closer inspection reveals them to be meticulously constructed, the products of a long process of collection and collation. Dichotomous to the last, each piece doubles as both artwork and wearable – functioning as rather pretty sculptures and, at the same time, somewhat ‘out there’ pieces of jewellery.

The titles of Young’s pieces point to a longstanding fascination with notions of abjection, referencing artists such as Louise Bourgeois, who is famous for works that both seduce and repel. So too, Young’s blog reveals a more personal inspiration for her pink series – photographs of the artist’s insides, taken for medical tests. Entries entitled ‘Innards’ and ‘Gut Instinct’ further explain the bodily connotations, but it’s one image that says it best – an unidentified organ, bright pink and studded with droplets of blood. It’s luminous and gorgeous and horrible too. Suddenly ‘Pink. You Stink’ makes perfect sense.

- Amber McCulloch

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