Art By Darren Almond And He Xiangyu At White Cube

The long exposure is a common technique used by photographers to create visually stimulating effects, like star trails in astronomy and motion blur for passing traffic. Darren Almond has used this method to photograph landscapes using only the light of the full moon.

This produces some spectacular results, especially over water, as it creates a misty effect that almost feels alien. The vaporous water carving through black volcanic rock in Cape Verde feels like what the earth would have been before life took hold. Rivers also create impressive effects as one’s surface feels more like a flexible membrane instead of water.

This series of photographs does significantly lessen in impact when water is taken out of the equation. In these instances the landscape shots feel like they were shot on an overcast day rather than under the full moon, and feel much more pedestrian once the impact of their unique selling point is stripped away.

In the adjacent gallery, He Xiangyu experiments with different materials to create sculpture. A deflated tank is made entirely out of Italian leather. It’s a critical work examining the advance of consumerism and how it has affected the balance of power in the artist’s native China.

Our favourite work was a series of black sculptures made from Coca-Cola residue. By creating ancient looking artefacts using such a ubiquitous modern day product, it’s  a recognition of the consumerist world we live in and a damning indictment of the fact that brands are taking on a huge historical significance.

Xiangyu then creates more personal pieces including a bright pink room filled with copper casts based on the inside of the artist’s mouth and a tower made from his wisdom teeth; but these are nowhere near as engaging as his more political works.

Both these artists have engaging pieces on display – Almond’s can be stunning but often feel one-dimensional while Xiangyu’s sculptures provide more food for thought.

Darren Almond: To leave a light impression and He Xiangyu: Inside the white cube are both on at White Cube Bermondsey, 144-152 Bermondsey St, SE1 3TQ until 13 April. Entrance is free.

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