250 words or less  

Review of:
James Brooks - Geometra

14 Jan
 - 6 Feb 2016

Monika Bobinska/ Canal Projects, London

Brooks dissects civic spaces into their constituent parts analysing how each are experiences of European social order, at the junction between the contemporary and historical.  He has brought together these elements – Roman roads, Ancient Greek lakes, town squares, and urban boundaries – re-imagining them as a cartographer, containing them within the boundaries of pure geometry devoid of the organic and the human.

The shapes are precision cut and reapplied to a base that contains the geometric super-structure. Up-close you can see the calculations, lines, and intimate geometric explorations; from afar, we are presented with a birds-eye view of each series rendered in flat colour.

I found the most successful works to be Paris’ twenty Arrondissements and the Tuscan Piazze. The former are no longer shown as a puzzle piece within ‘l’escargot’, but instead as individual areas in grey gauche. This is not the usual experience of a map of Paris, but is probably closer to how the Arrondissements’ demarcating boarders are used to order Parisian civic life.  The latter shows the four main piazze of Tuscany’s major cities; each space the flash-point of the historical, religious and civic, and are painted in the umber and terracotta that colour the Tuscan landscape. 

Though conceptual, this exhibition is not alienating as it investigates the universal familiarity of civic life through the most basic of shapes.  The aesthetic is such that should the viewer be armed with only the title of the work, it is apparent what is being observed.

(246 words)