Boyle Family: Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art.
The Boyles' work quickly became nevertheless even more pictorial, as their reliefs became reproductions (made by means of processes about which they are oddly secretive) rather than samples. Their range of topographies is vast--from deserts to demolition sites, potato fields to parking lots, and the materials mimicked include earth, snow, grass, cobblestones, concrete, and anything found on the surface of the earth. They have developed a very impressive illusionistic technique, something like Photorealist painting extended to the third dimension. The work would be more at home hanging next to Franz Gertsch and early Malcolm Morley than with Smithson and Long. And as with most Photorealist painting, the sense of reality on which the work is based is fundamentally determined by photography, leaving the pictorial (or, in this case, pictorial/sculptural) aspect of its realization, at best, interestingly alienated. The picture is an eerily frozen instant, an extract from time (as well as space) that can then be unpacked at leisure, as it were with all the time in the world.
But unlike photographs, and as much as the Boyles hold that ars est celare artem, their topographical reliefs can hardly be seen without thinking of the time and effort that went into them. Claiming to eschew "originality, style, superimposed design, wit, elegance, or significance," they never stop calling attention to one last modicum of subjectivity, in the form of sustained attention. The artists' investment of awareness in the world they've depicted elicits similar attention to their work as such and in turn to the world they depict--the ground you walk on looks different after spending time with the Boyles' work--and, yes, to the artists themselves. It's not their technique, then, that one wants to be more transparent but the nature of their collaboration. There's something at once sweetly old-fashioned and a bit perverse about turning art into the family business, but it might be the most radical thing the Boyle Family has done.
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|Date:||Dec 1, 2003|
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