Once upon a time I must have known how to spell ‘prompt’. These days its meaning seems to escape me, and so with more metaphorical Lycra than was decent for “fashionably late”, I landed in the midst of Zyg’s Private View party.
Hosted by Professor Alan Phillips, at his eponymous Gallery (arguably Brighton’s finest architect and certainly its most roguish), Leap of Faith is Zygmunt Jarzembowski’s first solo exhibition, which opened last Friday. This body of work combines a model making background with toy collector’s eye and has been shaped by the contents of the artist’s head and heart. Nothing unusual there you may think, but you haven’t seen the pieces yet.
A fine crowd of friends were gathered, already much buoyed upon a generous quantity of tasty cocktails (mixed from The Kraken Black Spiced Rum, thank you Marblehead), Zyg’s own brand of Glühwein and the extraordinary artwork that we’d all come to see.
Having researched Zyg online, and found reference to “Arty Toy Lamps”, that’s pretty much what I expected to find. On closer inspection, although these pieces may feature vintage toy components, the finished articles are galaxies apart from toy world. Whilst some are apparently jolly confections of familiar childhood stars, things are not necessarily what they seem.
In one golden lamp sculpture (above), Mickey Mouse stands triumphant atop a defeated retinue of familiar toys, featuring Woody, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle and others, with poor Action Man at the bottom, a comment on the business of global brand identity.
Others are more sinister; the anachronism of Trainspotting, for instance, makes you wonder what’s going on. A wistful cherub looks askance, right hand lying across left arm, into which a needle is held, and the eye is drawn to an exhausted paraphernalia of heroin below. Perhaps heaven is not all its cracked up to be.
In the style of an antique mantle clock, Fairie Liquid is topped by a benignly smiling child casually plucking the wings from unsuspecting fairies; victims are scattered beneath, writhing in their own gossamer detritus.
The scene, both vile and beautiful has been immaculately arranged and finished with tentative gold brushwork; the flawless, unrelenting detail is irresistible.
Throughout Alan Phillips’ new Gallery, guests to Leap of Faith were gathered in chatty, chuckling groups whilst around them, others gazed open jawed at the work, which provoked discussion, speculation, wonderment.
I love a proper party and that’s exactly what this was; around eighty happy people ebbed and flowed, inside and out, with good juicy stuff to drink, look at and talk about. And in the midst of it all there he was – much loved Zyg, animated, warm, smiling, beaming and booming as usual. Nothing wrong there, then.
With several of the twenty or so pieces sold, the evening was a successful and splendid affair; Julia, Zyg’s beautiful, calm and serene partner glided effortlessly, Nathalie and Buzz entertained, the lovely Philip Reynolds chatted (a reunion after, um, eleven years) and the Jarzembowski family featured large, including Zyg’s brother Jan and his astonishingly bright, engaging, articulate and forensic daughter Anastasia.
I mean that in the nicest way; she’s studying forensics and human behaviour – a career path, which perhaps, just perhaps, has been somehow prompted and inspired by her very own uncle.
Who can tell?
Leap of Faith, until 29th February 2012
The Alan Phillips Gallery, 31 Montefiore Road, Brighton BN1 1RD
Contact Zyg: firstname.lastname@example.org