November 1st – December 7th
RCC Gallery 2

Quite similar but actually very different, a solo exhibition by Glasgow based artist, Kevin Callaghan, is a responsive multimedia installation comprising new works in clay and wood that advances the artist’s ongoing inquiry into the interplay between form and consciousness, and the potential for experiencing alternative realities. 

Kevin Callaghan received his artistic training in sculpture, and began moulding clay from a young age. The ductile and reactive nature of this material led him to develop an emotional relationship with clay, which then became the medium through which he embarked on a personal interpretation of form and the possibilities for its synthesis and abstraction. Influenced on the one hand by mechanical engineering design, and, on the other hand, by traditional Japanese craftsmanship, the artist has spent the last years creating a number of geometrical sculptures that, while seeming to follow an unwritten law of rationality, are simultaneously testament to his authorship and reflective of his own deep psychological investment in his sculptures.

In Quite similar but actually very different Callaghan takes the audience on a sensorial journey exploring the gap between form and its potentiality. For this purpose, the artist presents within the space two different types of microstructure designed to stimulate both the viewer’s intellect and their emotions. In the middle of the room, eight clay sculptures are displayed on minimal black plinths of varying shapes. The uneven and porous texture of the clay is carefully worked to create a uniform surface similar to that which would be achieved through a mechanical process of production. The architectural aspect of these sculptures makes them appear like scaled down models that are suggestive of certain structures: a room; a public square; a city. On the wall, twelve geometric paintings are on show. Made of wood, each piece is coloured differently, with combinations of intersecting parallel lines. By merging geometrical patterns and different chromatic ranges, these wall pieces are intended by the artist as an exploration into form and colour to create a new aesthetical singularity. A lo-fi sound installation permeates the exhibition space. With its phonographic imperfections and fluctuating trends, the music builds a dialogue with the rational and emotional stimuli engendered by both the clay sculptures and the wall pieces.

Such an organisation of the space appears to be designed to act on the viewer, allowing for fruitful imaginative dynamics. In line with Callaghan’s practice, the microstructures, while appearing to be constructed according to an analogous geometrical ratio, are in fact unique. Each piece was created through practice-led research and possess sui generis qualities. This tension between likeness and diversity challenges the viewer’s ability to categorise the forms on display. By introducing recurrent geometrical patterns, the artist induces the audience to establish internal relationships between the pieces displayed based on their formal affinities. This cognitive procedure intertwines with the sensorial answer prompted by the warm materiality of the clay as well as the chromatic intensity of the wall pieces. Ultimately, by cooperating inside the exhibition space, the microstructures function as both formal and emotional propositions for the viewer to create narratives between the objects on display. The artist’s hope for this process of subjective engagement is to push our current experience towards new possibilities – towards as-yet unappreciated dimensions and realities. The clay sculptures become erratic fragments of a bigger architectural body that the viewer has to mentally project into a new urban landscape. The wall pieces provide a structural fabric for an urban model that can expand into an infinite space. In this inter-dimensional reality folded into an exhibition room, space turns out to be not only a gap between physical boundaries but it encompasses human reactions and activities. In seeking the potential for a new utopian outer reality, the artist merges the rational starting point of the traditional ideal city with an emotional reaction that might be able to create a new kind of aesthetic sensibility.

Quite similar but actually very different is a sensorial installation based on a new emotional understanding of form that invites intricate and flexible possibilities. Through this visual process of simultaneous stasis and transfiguration, the installation connects to the audience on an immediate, physical level and creates a spatial and sonic landscape rich in sensory and poetic associations.

Curated by Adrian Kelly
Text by Masaccio Ranfagni
Sound GJ Burke