With Ikon's latest exhibition coming to an end, we wanted to take a look into Mit Jai Inn's Dreamworld, a solo exhibition involving large scale brightly coloured installations all created using layers of paint and canvas. From the very moment of entering the gallery you are greeted with a series of small rectangular paintings as part of Mit's Dream Works (1999 – ) a series of unstretched canvases involving bold grid patterns of paint. Each of these canvases contain small slits allowing the pieces to be displayed in multiple ways, from being hung, folded, curved or looped. It is a very dynamic way of pushing the boundaries of painting and going against the typical format of display that painting often is restricted to.
“When I paint, it’s not only with my eyes, but with all of my senses: touch, smell, movement. The whole entity.” - Mit Jai Inn
Midlands Dwelling (2021) Oil, colour pigment and glue on canvas 310 x 837 x 670 cm Acrylic on canvas on metal
The first room you enter into is completely transformed with large sheets of canvas that cover the floor and 3 walls of the room. Mit's installation Midlands Dwelling It disrupts the usual white cube space turning it into something otherworldly - a positive space full of colour, texture and pattern. What I found immediately strange when entering was the immediately change of light. The whole room is very dimly lit with a warm yellow glow, allowing for interesting shadows and making the space seem like some sort of hidden primal cave. Visitors are invited to walk across the installation, which feels almost wrong and unnatural within the gallery setting. Layers of thick paint and powdered pigments creates a textural, lumpy surface which can be felt under foot, seeming almost like walking on the surface of the moon.
mesmerizing >>>>>>>>>>>> inherently colourful
- reflective ability to explore and connect with spaces
- a positive experience
The large twisted metal sculptures are very ambiguous objects. The large spikes appear almost like staff, spears or totems, making references to prehistoric civilisations. They appear both like strangely unearthed ancient objects/tools as well as some sort of futuristic device with the bright colours and glittery surface. It was wonderful to see how Ikon and Birmingham School of Art were connected though Mit being an artist in residence back in August, where the artist worked with technician Daniel Salisbury within the metal workshop to create his sculptures.
Untitled (Scroll) (2021) Oil on canvas (1) 149.5 (height) x 67 (diameter) cm (2) 149 (height) x 65 (diameter) cm
It was enjoyable to see the way in which panting's on canvas have been transformed into hanging sculptures, interactive installations as well as floor standing sculptural scrolls.
The ability to transform the medium of painting appears to be very important to Mit's way of working - all the works vary in scale, depth and design but all have been created from canvas.
#dreammantra (2021) Oil on canvas; acrylic and glue on canvas, metal Various dimensions
Through a doorway covered in tassels of hanging canvas you are greeted to a narrow room filled with hanging artworks - at least if you had chance to visit within the first few months of the exhibition. In its final day the room now sits filled with polaroid snaps replacement the vibrant artwork.
The room was used as a ritual site, with viewers being invited to take one of the artworks, either the double sided paintings or the twirled metal wire sculptures. To perform the ritual, visitors had to read a mantra, involving a series of dictums exploring gift giving and providing care for the object. The most interesting aspect of this was how the persons own actions could affect the object, such as being positive would allow the object to be positive. It made an interesting point of the process of gifting, with this having connections to the practice in Buddhist cultures, such as where monks gifted alms such as clothes and food.
feeling of connectivity - act of gift giving as art - timely quality
>>>>>>>>>>> photos as documentation of interactions - a visual memorial to the artworks that are no longer there <<<<<<<<<
Introducing Mit Jai Inn, video @Ikon Gallery
To sum up
It was very refreshing to visit an exhibition that allows for such a level of interaction with the artworks. The installations allows for a much more engaging experience for a visitor. Dreamworld remains a very hopeful exploration of utopia, a thoughtful and self reflective exhibition full of colour and vision, allowing others to ponder the question: what would their dreamworld be?
You can find out more information on the Ikon website here.