Gavin McCrea, Innermost Limits at The Hyde Bridge Gallery, Sligo

 For fifteen years before starting art college, Gavin McCrea surfed and built boards, a craft that requires multiple processes and layering: shaping a foam core, layering fibre glass, logos, more fibre glass, artwork, resin. Innermost Limits at the Hyde Bridge Gallery in Sligo explores that first ground, the experience of waves and the material process of layering. With the exception of a few canvases, McCrea chooses transparent materials to break the process of painting into discrete layers, dramatizing both their material process and their disintegration.

Stretched polythene on freestanding frames are both painting and window. A shadow moves across one frame positioned in the second storey window of the gallery space, someone passing on the street below. Stencilled tyre treads, paint drips, silhouettes of other viewers, sprayed negatives and blank space suggest both transience and absence. Palimpsests, the paintings enact the process of marking and effacement, each new passage of paint a layer that both obscures and reimagines. The effect is poetic, expressive gestures receding, a loss heightened by the clashing industrial materiality of the work: plastic, corrugate PVC, cellophane, aerosol spray, oil acrylic, resin.

While McCrea refers to the works as paintings (or even ‘paint-things’), he has built an immersive installation space. The scale of the bigger pieces is amplified in the very small gallery spaces, creating an intense proximity. Frames are positioned to constrain space and movement. Large-scale paintings lean against walls and a mixture of large and small pieces are free-standing on the floor. We look before, behind and through them, activated in the process of seeing. Sequential is installed in the floor – a strip of plastic back-lit with small cut out frames. The acetate paintings sequenced along the strip evoke both their process and their dissolution; like damaged photographs or disintegrating silver nitrate film, the picture-scape seems to crack and break apart before us.

We are asked to step closer. A canvas is mounted backwards against a wall provoking an urge to look despite an adjacent strip of hazard tape. The works simultaneously beckon, and ward us away. The red and white or yellow and black tape rhythmically repeats through the installation – across walls, wrapped around works, sliced across paintings – suggesting boundaries, danger, contamination; yet, materials spread and spill over edges, strips of polythene and tape straggle to the floor, the frames coextend with space.

Written by Una Mannion

Una Mannion is a lecturer in Performing Arts at IT Sligo.

Gavin McCrea, Innermost Limits at The Hyde Bridge Gallery Sligo, 23 January – 14 February 2018.