In our last gallery event this year the acknowledged Scottish artist Paul McDevitt (b. 1972) takes over the Martin Asbæk Gallery with the exhibition Bile and Manias, presenting new sculptures, drawings, paintings and a series of etchings entitled Idiot Fountains.
The abstract etchings are a direct quotation of the German modernist Willi Baumeister and his pure, concise lines. The highly imaginative figurative etchings depict slightly deformed comic-strip figures amusingly riding on the back of a swan that is spewing forth a jet of water; a kind of pop art that merges fascinatingly with allusions to the French Surrealist artist Yves Tanguy.
The fountain appears as the overshadowing pivot of the exhibition as something that is solid and static but in constant motion and development. The sculptures in the exhibition show various types of fountains where the actual mechanical elements such as hoses, pumps and water are exposed to the viewer.
The title Bile and Manias refers to the ancient system of medicine whereby four of the fluids (‘humours’) of the body had to be in balance if it was to remain healthy. These four fluids were associated with four temperaments. An excess of one of them led to an imbalance in the body as well as the temperaments. The theory took its point of departure in the four elements – earth, fire, air and water – in which for example yellow bile was associated with fire and gave rise to a choleric state of mind, while black bile was associated with earth and led to melancholy.
McDevitt’s thoughts have revolved around the imbalance of the four temperaments during the creation of the works. In some cases the work in the studio has led to violent mood-swings from hatred to admiration, which have in turn led to dramatic and drastic decisions. Although the works have now left the studio and taken over the Martin Asbæk Gallery, they are still in motion. The water that flows through the installation generates a constant transformation in the exhibition Bile and Manias.
At present Paul McDevitt lives in Berlin. He works with the artistic media drawing, sculpture and performance art, and has participated in several curating projects. Since he graduated from the Chelsea College of Art in 2000 McDevitt’s works have been exhibited at a number of international venues as well as in various solo exhibitions at galleries in Europe including Galerie Martin van Zomeren, Amsterdam, Stephen Friedman Gallery, London and Sommer & Kohl, Berlin.