Chris Hanrahan’s practice employs a very peculiar form of alchemy, creating work out of a whole lot of nothing. Holes, light, empty vessels, transparent containers, crude structures that parade their rudimentary construction and purloined texts that allude to stillness, emptiness and the impossible pursuit of perfection.
For his exhibition at Gertrude Contemporary Art Spaces, titled Creation Science, Hanrahan assumed the role of ‘The Seeker’. The exhibition emulated the Enlightenment explorer’s dual sentiments of curiousity, discovery and confusion. Centering on a video work created at the former London residence of Captain James Cook, which is now home to the production of high quality artists’ oil paints, Hanrahan used this site to highlight the ever-present undertones of failure and uncertainty within colonial conquest. The video sees Hanrahan in dirty oversized overalls, seemingly flummoxed by the peculiar science of artists’ oil paint production, with a viscous lurid outcome in stark contrast to the paint factory’s decrepit blandness.
Alongside this video Hanrahan exhibited a suite of new drawing, sculpture and neon works. These works chart a course headlong into the realm of exploration, operating in full knowledge of the possibility for failure that pervades any intent of endeavor. Indeed, these works identify the curious necessity for this enduring quandary within all modes of exploration, whether the motivation is the glass half-full or half-empty, the intrepid explorer’s desire is only ever matched by inevitable disappointment.
In Hanrahan’s practice it is still unclear whether he is attempting to develop a universally applicable formula that explains all mysteries, or whether he is merely a backyard tinkerer. However, what is clear is Hanrahan’s enduring delight in the dichotomy between desire and deceit, beauty and corruption, belief and skepticism.