'Rob Churm at Sorcha Dallas, Glasgow' (The Saachi Gallery Daily Magazine, 04/04/2007)
The fascinating solo exhibition of Rob Churm’s latest drawings now on show at Sorcha Dallas, Glasgow (through 7 April 2007) is a great chance to witness the young artist’s endlessly inventive graphic aesthetic, here showing traces of a turn from his earlier signature messy devil-may-care style into a rather elegant, sophisticated version of the same, one that shows more with less whilst managing to keep the artist’s priceless sense of raw, slightly ‘primitivistic’ improvisation unscathed. Churm’s monochromatic Indian ink and biro drawings unleash a free world of lines, points, cross-hatching, scratches and ink splotches, lush citations surreally bound into a kind of concrete poem.
Churm (b. Epping Forest, England, 1979, lives and works in Glasgow) has long been involved in a related kind of improvisation, the live-core punk scene, and has fused his artistic and musical practices into one – he’s often produced drawings and screenprinted posters to accompany and promote his ‘No Wave’ band, Park Attack, and the music manages to make its way into the drawings on show here, compositions full of rhythm, chaos and self-reference. Posters from recent shows act as nostalgic historical records of a time already past and irretrievable, but the elements of his images will hardly date. What he draws – anything and everything that passes through the screen of the mind – inconclusive tree-trunks, text spelling the words ‘lightening bolt’, a rose crying in the rain, a Pandora’s bottle of evasive pointillistic crescents sharing an episode with a hand with tensely touching fingers.. free associative, distilled poetic elements jumbled and juxtaposed with a beautiful sense of selection and restraint.
Churm’s recent show at the Whitechapel Project Space in London, with Montreal artist duo Seripop, was a great introduction into his world of outsiderish and obsessive doodling, where repetitive geometric shapes and diy-flyer typography share the space of the consistently plain-paper blank backdrop, like absent minded monuments to the unconscious (non-phone holding) hand. Their messy intricacy lends an addictive element to the viewing experience. They sometimes feel virtuosistically unfinished, but that’s part of the statement, as much punk as timeless, like the loveliness and abandon in the lingering power of a one-of-a-kind homemade tattoo.