Charles Avery – The Islanders: An Introduction

10 September - 8 November 2008

Parasol unit is delighted to present The Islanders: An Introduction, the latest instalment in Charles Avery‘s epic project which began in 2004. For the past four years, Scottish artist Avery has created texts, drawings, installations and sculptures which describe the topology and cosmology of an imaginary island, whose every feature embodies a philosophical proposition, problem or solution. Previous exhibitions have presented chapters in this ongoing endeavour, revealing individual aspects of the Island. For the first time, the whole project thus far will be brought together including several new works. This major exhibition at Parasol unit will be accompanied by a large-scale publication.

Avery’s mapping of the Island, to be completed over a projected ten-year period, can be interpreted as a meditation on making art and the impossibility of finding ‘truth’. The artist is characterised as a bounty-hunter, retrieving artifacts and documenting scenes from the subjective realm. Some of the works on show will focus in absurd detail, on particulars such as the sale of pickled eggs in the marketplace. Others present mysterious landscapes, such as the Eternal Forest, a place no one can ever reach but where a prized beast called the Noumenon is rumoured to live. A specimen of the Island’s wildlife will also be on show, having been realised in the form of a large taxidermy sculpture. These vivid and intricate works invite the viewer to recreate the Island in their own minds, and to use it as an arena for exploring philosophical conundrums and paradoxes.

Avery’s art is imbued with a formal beauty, humour, and a spirit of philosophical enquiry. It has roots in the work of such diverse figures as William Blake, P.G. Wodehouse, Jorge Luis Borges, Joseph Beuys, Joseph Kosuth and Ludwig Wittgenstein, but above all contains echoes of Avery’s own life, such as his upbringing on the Isle of Mull. Once this sprawling project is complete, Avery plans for it to be encapsulated in several large, leather-bound encyclopaedic volumes.

Following its debut at Parasol unit, The Islanders: An Introduction will tour to the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh and the Museum Boijmans van Beuningen, Rotterdam.

Parasol unit will be publishing a book to accompany the exhibition, with contributions by Nicolas Bourriaud, Tom Morton and Ziba Ardalan.