Under the title “Onomatopoeia”, the Kunstverein Hannover proudly presents the latest works by Scottish artist Charles Avery (born 1973), who has devoted himself exclusively to the creation of a fictional island archipelago since 2004. In detailed, large-scale drawings, installations, sculptures and objects, Avery forms a bizarre imaginary reality out of diverse philosophical ideas and concepts: Fabulous creatures, deities, tourists and adventurers are embedded in a complex social structure, merging into an entire cosmos that ranges between pure fantasy and theoretical reflection.
Around 40 works are assembled in this solo presentation that not only represents his debut in Germany, but also his most comprehensive exhibition to date. As if in a reportage, it invites the viewers to immerse themselves in the bustling activities of Onomatopoeia (the term for a word sounding like the sound it describes), the capital of this world, where objectivity is believed to indicate imbecility.
Charles Avery constructs his island world on a visual and a literary level: The ink, pencil and charcoal drawings executed with convincing precision and imaginative detail illustrate scenes from the islanders’ everyday life while objects suggested as “souvenirs” – stuffed creatures such as a onearmed snake or curiosities like a collection of philosopher’s hats – underscore the believability of the place and make the island tangible. The pieces are accompanied by texts from the books “The Islanders: An Introduction” (2008) and the catalog published on the occasion of this exhibition “Onomatopoeia: The Port” (2010) in which Avery introduces the island’s characters and special features in a robinsonade style.
The core of the exhibition is the drawing of the Port of Onomatopoeia (2009/10) measuring 2.5 by 5 meters: The “Utility,” one of the numerous ships that bring tourists and adventurers to the island, has just landed. The jetty is populated by native if’en, stone-mice and eel sellers, tourists wearing the popular “I counted the gods and they are infinite” t-shirts and the ever-present dog-like silverbobs. There, the two ports of entry, “Duty” and “Identity,” provide an initial indication of the city’s main attraction: the eternal dialectic.
Despite the meticulousness with which Charles Avery formulates his cosmos, he does without a plot that would recapitulate the world in any epic narrative: The island world is a theoretical playground that invites the viewers to think one step further and equip with their own stories – or to look on from the edge and wonder if there really is an island at all.