Leon McDermott, 'Art Review' (The Metro, 28/04/2006)

ART REVIEW Take Me With You/Who Is Everything

Gary Rough is interested in – or obsessed with – language. Double meanings, ambiguity, subtle subversions of well-known phrases are all threaded through his work even when, as in this show, there’s nary a word to be seen.

Previously, Rough has worked heavily with text itself. Take Me With You (where to, you might ask) forgoes this direct play with language; it also steers away from Rough’s other occasional preoccupation, the use of neon lights, which is covered in Who Is Everything, in an off-site gallery on High Street.

Seven small line drawings hang on the walls. The pages are blank save for the spidery lines and margins he has drawn on them. They’re odd things, strangely evoking the first day of a new term at school, when kids would spend half their time drawing margins in their jotters. Indeed, it feels as if Rough is asking you to collaborate: read – or write – between these uneven lines. Meaning is never fixed.

Meaning remains uncertain in Who Is Everything, a series of neon signs made from Rough’s drawings from memory of New York shop signs: musical notes, a wig, a heart.

What though, are these signs trying to sell you? Up in the corner, a blue aeroplane heads for the wall and it’s almost impossible to divorce this from recent history. You gaze up at it, pondering again the confusing nature of language and communication.