Bedwyr Williams: My Bad, Mission Gallery, Swansea

Bedwyr Williams: My Bad, Mission Gallery, Swansea

With a wry humour and sharp wit, Bedwyr Williams continues to reflect on the human condition, from personal narratives to art world and cultural phenomena. The exhibition feels like a tour around Bedwyr’s mind, his humour, his fears, his annoyance and bugbears. Working with film, sculpture, performance and drawing, the exhibition and accompanying performance displays the whole range of Bedwyr’s output.

The work comes from the view of an outsider, a non participating observer who looks in, constantly baffled by the world, questioning everything around him, and looking inwards reflecting his own neurosis and doubts. There is an obvious difference in the space and dimensions of Ikon gallery in Birmingham, where the show was previously housed and its current place at Mission gallery, some works have not been shown or paired down to fit the space, however the work fits well in the space without losing its impact.

Dominating the gallery space is Heron, a lamp post penetrating a canopy often found on the front of hotels. The canopy is often the space in-between, half pedestrian, half guest, where you feel relatively safe the canopy is a protective structure, however, as with the lamppost, something bad could happen. Emblazoned on the canopy is the name of the imaginary hotel, Hotel Fundus, rather than a traditional name. Reflecting Bedwyrs anxieties and reflections on the worst-case scenario, the title, Fundus is unusually an anatomical term referring to the part of an organ opposite to its opening, for example the fundus of the eye is the interior surface opposite the lens.

In Shitrunes, cereal bowls have been spit out of a kiln and strewn across the gallery floor. Each bowl represents the cereal Bedwyr eats every morning, as a physical marker of another day lived. Kilns are often temperamental and the whole process can go wrong, resulting in an exploded bowl. Past the cereal bowls, the kiln flickers, ready to spit out another bowl, cracked or perfect.

Humour is often not present within art, but Bedwyr foregoes tradition and approaches each subject with a sardonic eye. Encased in a glass frame, the sculpture Square Wig references the harsh haircuts like a bob, often sported in the art world. The work refers to what Bedwyr refers to as “Gallerinas”, the beautiful people who work in galleries who are often quite intimidating. This haircut is about power, the face is squarely framed in the bob, but Bedwyr’s sculpture casts a gently mocking eye over this phenomenon to reveal a layer of art world mythology. The soundtrack resonating throughout the space, Tac, Tac, Tac is pieced together using onomatopoeic words around the world for bang. The viewer is under constant fire throughout the gallery, but in the most comedic way.

NATCH/SIC presents a grid of Bedwyr’s pencil drawings, the closest we get into the mind of the artist, which he describes as sometimes good, sometimes bad and sometimes indifferent. The drawings offer an insight into the artist’s practice, and offer context to the works. The drawings differentiate themselves from the rest of the work as Bedwyr can imagine and think as he draws, not determined by physical possibilities, and the work can explore diverse subjects only possible through the act of drawing. This is reflected in the range of subjects, from a BBQ full of faces to a dinosaur missing half its head.

The exhibition is poised between success and failure, something bad could happen, and in the mind of the artist, it will. Throughout the exhibition there is a sense of trepidation that something can or will go wrong within our everyday life. Just in case, Bedwyr has filled the gallery windows with sandbags (entitled Mission Under Siege) preparing for that worst-case scenario.

Bedwyr Williams: My Bad, until 6 January, Mission Gallery, Gloucester Place, Maritime Quarter, Swansea, SA1 1TY

Rory Duckhouse

Glynn Vivian offsite exhibition in partnership with Mission Gallery and Ikon, Birmingham.
All images are courtesy of Mission Gallery
1. Heron, (2012) Bedwyr Williams.
2. Shitrunes, (2012) Bedwyr Williams.