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Website: Chestnuts Design

Glyph Graph  | Ian Monroe at Horatio Junior | November 6th to December 5th 2015


A review by Laurence Noga

©Copyright Patrick Morrissey and Clive Hancock  All rights reserved.

In this magnificent and complex show at Horatio Junior, Ian Monroe’s new sculpture uses the materials of high-rise office spaces while hinting subtly at a world of cybernetics (a term first used in the 1950s). The systems in place in Monroe’s practice change the environment, developing a natural trigger. Glass and polished aluminium gleam alongside carpet tiles punctuated with map pins (glyphs) and coloured Perspex. We are caught in a system of multiple viewpoints, and an immediacy of physical presence, which completely engages and unnerves the viewer.

The show is divided into two modes of operation. The larger constructions, upstairs, either sit in open space, confronting us in life-size encounters, or are fitted into a more claustrophobic environment, challenging us physically, like robotic forms not quite able to distinguish human proximity. Downstairs, the other part of the show has a more intimate and textural atmosphere. ‘Non-places’ like airports or hotels can influence the interactions that take place in them. But these constructions feel both psychological and biological beneath their mechanically applied, smooth, powder-coated surfaces.  


Sentinel (calibrated), 2015, powder coated aluminium, vinyl & Perspex . 110  x 150 x 10.5 cm. Image courtesy of Horatio Junior

The three works entitled Sentinel, importantly, bring a heavy sense of surveillance, implying powerful kinetic movement within their geometric combinations. In Sentinel (calibrated) the two large angular forms near the wall appear first as diamonds (rhombuses) but then suddenly reveal themselves as parallelograms. The projection into the space becomes about the manipulation of the quadrilateral with its parallel opposing sides. The third parallelogram frames an interior red/orange Perspex area, drawing our attention towards the relationship between the tonal changes in the aluminium and its boundaries. The two smaller shapes are tonally more explicit. Tucked within the smallest parallelogram is a vinyl card that seems to indicate branding. It’s not until you step back and notice the whole construction, with its pale green triangle, that the spatial resonances create a further set of metamorphoses. Sentinel (inverse) uses all these colour values in a much softer way. A lot more of the wall is visible and it is executed with a more painterly zip; the atmosphere is more about the coherence.

Sentinel (inverse), 2015, powder coated aluminium, vinyl & Perspex . 101 x 140 x 10.5 cm,  Image courtesy of Horatio Junior

(L) Zig Zag, 2015, powder coated aluminium, vinyl, wood & Perspex,112 x 147 x 11 cm    

(R) Sentinel (engaged), 2015, powder coated aluminium, vinyl & Perspex, 74 x 110 x 26.5 cm. Image courtesy of Horatio Junior

Zig Zag and Sentinel (engaged) offer more of a defined relationship in terms of their interactive positioning, possibly articulating conflict. Seen from the front of this site-specific space, there is an immediate tension between the two works. Zig Zag seems to register the movement of the other work; it feels as if there is a detection of the re-ordering of the form, perhaps to regulate or even neutralise that procedure. The manipulation of the colour relationships, through the transparency and diffusion of the colour values, introduces a breadth of syntactical possibilities.

That sense of disorientation is initially less obvious in the spaces downstairs. The ‘Burmatex’ office carpet that is integral to most of the works instantly places us in a strange corporate interior. If we look up to encounter Signal Grau, it resolutely holds its ground within the space. It calls to mind Mary Martin’s relief at the Tate, made in 1969 (Perspex group on Orange b) with its vivid use of orange, white, and black Perspex. That work juts into the space in a super-sharp colour combination. With Monroe, the colour relationships are still refined, but more hyperactive. The luminescent orange linear shape, for example, sits above and below the frame like a flattened periscope. The bottom part of that structure has an arc of light blue that is optically insistent across the whole environment. The glossy red handle embedded in the texture of the carpet demands a physical grip, alongside the silver square finger plate which builds the feeling of a hidden touch code.

SignalGrau, 2015. Carpet, powder coated aluminium, vinyl, Dibond and Perspex.  30.5 x 54 x 12 cm. Image courtesy of Horatio Junior


The implications of movement and machine-based memory are developed further in the floor works. Both The Gatekeepers and Focus Group use glass columns to emphasize the flat space of everyday existence. This time, the carpet tiles are still utilitarian grey, but with flashes of colour. Clusters of objects seem to rise out of the space. Brass hexagons and spiral 3D pie charts form subtle relationships within a rotational symmetry. Honeycombs of hexagonal forms indicate a molecular relationship which is also particularly evident between the figurative elements of Outbox. This work has a very delicate sense of balance and construction, with echoes of the constructivist approach of El Lissitzky in his Proun series. Remainder has a Bauhaus twist, with the same ingenuity of experimentation that is found in the work of Moholy-Nagy.

Focus Group, 2015. Carpet, powder coated aluminium, Perspex, glass, vinyl, Dibond and MDF 100.5 x 94 x 75.5 cm, mage courtesy of Horatio Junior


Remainder. 2015. Powder coated aluminium, anodised aluminium, map pins, vinyl, Dibond and Perspex. 59.5 x 95 x 23 cm. Image courtesy of Horatio Junior

Glyph Graph engenders a sensation of visual and physical hierarchy. The perplexing slender elongated structure in phthalo turquoise is counterbalanced by the (slightly passive) interlocking form which hangs onto the main structure. The organisation of the work allows an interpretation of intimate control. The suggestion of data stored - through the position of the map pins - seems to play on the work’s relationship. It’s a phenomenal work in its potent use of colour and its anticipation of something unforeseen.   

Installation shot: Focus Group, 2015. Carpet, powder coated aluminium, Perspex, glass, vinyl, Dibond and MDF 100.5 x 94 x 75.5 cm.   Image courtesy of Horatio Junior

The work in this show has a sense of given limits created by the material choices, but critically, these do not feel entirely predetermined. There is a feeling of improvisation and surprise, suggested by the use of inter-dimensional scale, and the innovative illusionistic space. Monroe’s approaches work towards a place, beyond rationality and geometric division, in which the senses are allowed to function in response to the metaphysical.    


Laurence Noga

December 2015

Glyph Graph, 2015. Dibond and Perspex, 42 x 96 x 42 cm .  Image courtesy of Horatio Junior