CLUTCH is the name of the show by Tony Bond, just opened at Bath Street Gallery in Parnell. His earlier show was called NUDGE. Odd names, you might think, but when you see his pieces perched on their angled, tilted shelves you are distinctly aware of a strong feeling that it will take just the slightest NUDGE for you to CLUTCH at them as they slide off on the way to the floor. Then again, nudge and clutch are incomplete actions; that is, a nudge is a light prod toward some result and a clutch may or may not grasp whatever is slipping away… both almost explicit, yet not quite… And that is what Bond intends – an unstable, hazardous ambiguity where certainty and full perception is beyond reach.
This pervading sensation of precariousness is a stratagem he has used before, most notably at the Taiwan International Biennale of Ceramics in 2010 when the audience were clearly anticipating not just a nudge and clutch but a potential crash.
The pieces are progressions from his winning work first seen at the inaugural Portage Awards back in 2001. Then it was a plinth-supported pair, which gloried under the names Qumbilicum I and II; now it is a wall-full of pieces called Formunculae.
Hybridity of language is clearly something Bond relishes and the argot fits the works which still suggest the blurring of categorical borders that characterised the Portage pair. Those hovered between organic and mechanical like some pierced and slit, jet-engined extraction from deep inside a body bag. In Taiwan the corporeal lingered in soft-sheen surfaces of off-white and fleshy pink which cloaked structures that might be replacement parts for a robot were it not for the anatomically flavoured addenda suggesting an erotic charge spread over an expanse of wall.
The current show bears similarities of layout and form; a mongrel compound of shapes that are strangely familiar yet terminate to something utterly foreign where the natural and the artificial are no longer clear-cut. These works however are sharper, more strident and testing of tolerance due to the different surface rendered by auto-lacquer with its uniform colour and high gloss. Yet still the ambiguities hold sway – sweet pastels and strong primaries, minimalist and excessive, playful and humorous yet at the same time there is an underlying seriousness. And emphasised by presentation on those slippery slopes that signify inherent danger. Bond is challenging any notion of classifications or judgements being applied, to not only his work but the place we find ourselves; where tampering with nature leads us into a mutated area we don’t fully understand. By the time we do, all will have moved on anyway, making any verdict pointless.