Toby Christian at Celine

Artist: Toby Christian

Exhibition title: Old School New Body

Venue: Celine, Glasgow, UK

Date: April 7 – May 11, 2019

Photography: all images copyright and courtesy of the artist and Celine, Glasgow

Celine is proud to present Old School New Body, a new solo exhibition by Toby Christian.

A series of paper sculptures populates the main gallery space. The knotted, skeletal figures are constituted of free daily newspapers collected by the artist while travelling around London in the months prior to the exhibition. Remodelling the knotted papers that mapped the walls of his previous exhibition The News, the sculptures are titled to propose temporary instances of creativity (maker), packaging (shrinker), headlining (streamer), celebration (nicotine pompom) and sustenance (chip poker). Braced by a spontaneous armature of bamboo skewers, bent steel clips and sealant, these jagged networks abridge each article into clusters of words and splashes of colour.

08:05, a single marble sculpture attached to the wall, is a site for a past performance. Immediately prior to the opening of Old School New Body, the work was warmed by continuous hand contact for the duration of a proper lunch break, after which it cools to the local ambient temperature. This traditional sculptural material, pristine and porous, is waxed to shield it from the secretions of active Eccrine glands. The sculpture equivocally draws from the formal languages of modern British sculpture and contemporary technological hardware.

Across the hallway, the looped video Kiosk shows a lone bee struggling through a scorched thyme plant, to shed a surplus of pollen grain covering its body. As a recurrent character from the first chapter of Christian’s recent book Collar, this prime pollinator is demonstrative of the reciprocal relationship between his writing and making. The work was filmed out of the window of where he was living at that time.

Underfoot, temporary plastic sheeting hides the gallery’s various floor finishes. This hardwearing protection, usually laid during renovation works, alludes to a specifically transformative mode of labour in the domestic setting of the gallery. The windows here are covered too with privacy film, reflecting a hazy, bubbling image of the works in the exhibition, echoing the unique, oblique narrative sensibility which defines his practice.

Toby Christian lives and works in London. He has been awarded the inaugural Matera Residency in July 2019, and his forthcoming solo exhibition Burners opens in September 2019 at Alessandro Albanese, Milan. Recent exhibitions and performances include Trippy Scroller, PEER, London (2018), The News, Swimming Pool, Sofia, curated by David Dale, Glasgow (2017) and Railing, Whitechapel Gallery, London (2017). His forthcoming book will be published in 2020 by Koenig Books, who also published his previous books Collar (2017) and Measures (2015).

This exhibition is generously supported by Central Saint Martins.