The notion of a “distressed Jesus”should bring hoards of do-gooders down to Temple Bar, but in Clea van der Grijn’s outing, the piece is just one example of the issues which might disrupt this artist in the future. The show balances on a huge wall installation made of more than 200 separate flat boxed shapes. Individual elements are dressed in fabric, stencilled with numbers but taken together to show a slightly off-scale internal cruciform within a colour web of gold leaf, white and greens. The documentary intention is clear, if not transparent.
More well arranged and beautifully worked boxes are heaped on the floor in a strange kind of statement about their value – if wall-hung, they would deservedly sell out. Across the space, a tiny set of photos shows you various boxes in miniature. Nearby hangs the distressed Jesus, intended to send some powerful message that gets lost in the ether of its visual incongruousness with the other works. These theoretical aspirations are no doubt sincere but they jar with the sheer quality and particular strength of the painted works. Van der Grijn’s cruciform reads like a crossroads: some paths are more hip but her innate sense of style could blaze through the compulsions of fashionable art hype. This work suggests a cool and very collected artist who needs to take just one more leap. As her Friend might have said in His less distressed days, there’s no sin in being a good painter.