Timo Kube

Writing a review of Timo Kube's "Sensibilities" is, in some senses, a senseless pursuit. While at first glance indebted to a minimalist tradition, Kube's works really refuse to be read as part of a "tradition" at all when you're in the room with them. Instead, they insist on being experienced as sequences of sense data: constantly shifting, growing, glowing and retracting, through time.

In Dr. Robert Luzar’s essay on Sensibilities we find the claim that “audiences view objects that, more or less, resist definition and medium specificity; these might appear as paintings and sculpture but the experience in viewing the works opens up (the) senses of what they ‘are.'” Indeed, the pieces in this show confound the classic definition-by-medium that is every viewer’s – and writer’s – first idea of something to reach for when making sense of the works. Wall-based works are made of silk and mirrors (either hand-made or found), or of polyurethane, or chalk. In the centre of the room at CHAUFFEUR’s Liverpool Street gallery, amongst these wall-dwelling works, stands a polypropylene vessel holding rainwater. Along the surface of this water blooms a desultory sequence of ripples, as dust, hair, and light fall into the work. “Media” take a back seat here to “materials” – that is, the materiality of the work is eloquent in and of itself, apart from any artful (and, it is artful) arrangement of it.

Sensuous complexity is a slow, thoughtful, and underplayed logic working across this presentation. The mode of attentiveness that the whole exhibition calls for is perhaps best exemplified in Kube’s large monochrome works of almost-white chalk. These works are fields of colour and of texture, certainly, but more than that, they’re dense fields of time: we can see, if we look closely enough, the layer upon layer of chalk. We can spend, if we look closely enough, minute after minute, hour after hour, or day after day finding endless specificity in each mark across this stretch of sameness. That Kube’s work is so quietly insistent about itself, and that it gives so much so slowly, seems essential to me – not only to the coherence of the work itself, but within the context of contemporary life. The phenomenological experience of these works isn’t something that can be easily commodified, and wouldn’t necessarily do well as a tile on Instagram. What a relief. 

Perhaps the best advice I could give in writing about this show would be this: stop looking at writing about this work, and go see the objects themselves. Undoubtedly, what you see would be different to what I saw on the day that I visited the exhibition; the light would fall differently through the windows, illuminating the silk and mirrors into totally different colours. Perhaps some growth may have emerged in the body of rain water, or the water level will have been adjusted either through some natural process of condensation or evaporation, or by the hand of gallery staff. Perhaps the polyurethane will be sparkling differently, having slowly reacted to the light it has been exposed to over time. Certainly you look different to me, so when you look into the silk-and-mirror works you will be seeing some other reflection.

1 October – 6 November 2021


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