ART: PRIVATE VIEW

Etienne Clement to 5 Mar Photofusion, London SW9
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The Independent Culture
Young children have no problem in imagining the personalities of their toys - they bounce them up and down to "suggest" different moods. For the photographer Etienne Clement, the memories of childhood games have returned to haunt his work, only now the toys find themselves all alone, stranded in strange, sometimes forbidding, places.

In his new exhibition, Toy Stories, a hand-painted geisha girl emerges from a dark doorway into a tiled room covered with graffiti. Is this an assignation? Or a stroll gone wrong? The geisha's costumed gentility seems under threat from as yet unseen powers. Other photographs feature blue cowboys and red Indians, a one- armed astronaut and a selection of madly staring dolls.

Like actors down on their luck, these battered toys look as they have decided to give the big time one last go: it's easy to read an ebbing vitality into their inflexible poses. The credit, of course, should to go Clement, who has managed to turn mass-produced figures and a series of scaled-down "environments" into something both comic and disturbing.

Photofusion, 17a Electric Lane, London SW9 (020-7738 5774) to 5 Mar, Tue to Sat 10am-6pm, Thur 10am-8pm

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