Pick of the Galleries

Strange dramas in the dark
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The Independent Online

Huger Foote at Hamiltons, W1

Huger Foote at Hamiltons, W1

It's as if you smoked too much weed and drank too much beer, passed out briefly, and then woke up again - on the floor, undignified but happy. Foote's best photographs are a bit like this; a coming to consciousness - struggling to make sense of the unexpected view, light and colours - and taking happy pleasure at the confusion. Shot and left for dead in an attempted car-jack, Foote gave meaning to his long convalescence by taking pictures in an affirmative manner. A major monograph, My Friend from Memphis, published this week by Booth Clibborn, provides an over-view of this work, complemented at this show with a large selection from the book.

Works like Dexterity, depicting a garage and flower shop, has visual ruptures running across the image, caused by window reflections and resolved with a compositional bravura. An artist with an intelligent, acute sensibility, Foote makes a vibrant colour drama out of the otherwise banal.

People are rarely represented, although evidences of them are everywhere, and it's probably not a coincidence that the show's one unsatisfactory work includes them. This strategic distance doesn't mean Foote failing to defer to the truth and greatness of his world, though. It's in the intense colour of a child's toy he depicts, or the languid beauty of some wistaria that dances round a soil pipe - love and hope springing eternal in his irrepressible energy.

* Huger Foote: Hamiltons, W1 (020 7499 9493), to 11 November

Tony Oursler at Soho Square, W1

It sounds like a big deal, and it is - and that's the problem. Tony Oursler's superscale son-et-lumiÿre installation in Soho Square leaves an ungrateful feeling. A nostalgia for his smaller, more powerfully intimate works spoils the well-meant intention of the event.

Called The Influence Machine, Oursler describes the work as a "psycho-landscape", where rationalism bumps into strange things in the dark. Large faces on trees, giant hands knocking on buildings, eerie music and disembodied voices create a showman's melodrama, depicting an unworldly realm. It's a far cry from the poignant candles and other expressions of grief that filled Soho Square after the Admiral Duncan bombing.

There's genuine magic to a face projected onto a manufactured fog - when the high winds of the environmental apocalypse allow - the transposition of Oursler's signature projections onto larger objects unfortunately compromises them - bigger's not better. Unlike the PR photos, projections onto trees of faces lack luminous definition, and attention is drawn to deficiencies of their soundtrack text. The whiney monologues are revealed to have a content over and above their emotional atonality, and Oursler's poeticised articulations of his media theories diminishes the mood of his work.

* Tony Oursler: Soho Square, W1 (020 7713 1402), to 12 November

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