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EXHIBITION

REVIEW

Pedro Cabrita Reis At Haunch of Venison, 6 Haunch of Venison Yard, London W1, until 17 December

Although these new works by Pedro Cabrita Reis are among the few he has made that are not site-specific, they so flatter their surroundings that the Haunch of Venison's old curving banisters and polished wood floors have never looked better. And that works both ways. Set against the aged and gentrified industrial interiors of the gallery, Reis's new materials - glass and aluminium, light bulbs and cables - feel all the more like the fabric of familiar shops and offices, of the here and now.

The sculptures Reis showed at Camden Arts Centre (AJ 09.12.04) didn't engage emphatically with the exhibition spaces, though the long iron girders he used did stretch out to fill them. In contrast, his new works are fiercely compact. The stacks of metal lattices - dark in the rusted steel Compound -3, shining new and apparently weightless in the aluminium Compound -4 - remind one of Donald Judd's Minimalism in the way all their energy seems gathered into themselves.

True Gardens -4 (London) is given all of the first fl oor, but again it feels compact:

four large aluminium window casements holding doublelaminated glass lie horizontally, propped up crudely from the floor with blocks of wood and pieces of metal. Below them are four more glass panels, which this time are filled with painted monochromes (two orange, one grey, one black).

Around them lie a series of fluorescent light bulbs and sprawling heedlessly over the whole arrangement are the thick black flexes which power all the bulbs. It's an enthralling reprise of the old Minimalist duality of matter and spirit.

Look past all the flexes and deep into the monochromes, and you see the bulbs have set off reflections like ladders of light emerging out of the floor.

That Reis has a lot of faith in the metaphorical possibilities of new materials is further confirmed in the installation of five monochromes on the second floor. They are lent their colour by expanses of dyed cotton fabric which sit behind double-laminated glass in imposing aluminium frames.

That's strange, perhaps, when the titles insist that they are paintings, but a work like Painting -2 (Oxblood) recalls the enveloping expansiveness of some Abstract Expressionism.

Stand before it and you're reflected in a field of colour, the detail of your surroundings - angles and textures of walls - all misted out in an impression of voluminous empty space.

There's drama in these pictures and alongside True Gardens -4 they make for a much more strident presentation than at Camden last year. The change in tone is in some measure down to the use of newer materials - Camden had distressed old doors and desks, fl aking paintwork - which have less of the human touch and allow for more showmanship.

Reis was warmer last year, more personable, less distant, and somehow more appealing, but he remains just as impressive as ever.

Morgan Falconer is a writer based in London

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