An incongruous gap exists in how we conceive of humankind and matter, as if the two were inextricably separated. On a wall in his studio, Darren Harvey-Regan has a crop of Albrecht Dürer’s Melencolia I next to another reproduction of René Magritte’s Invisible World. Both show a de-territorialisation of the rock as an object of nature. Rocks are an incongruous motif in Magritte’s painting: they appear frequently, defying their usual properties, as so many objects in his world tend to do. Some float in mid air: one maintains an occupied castle at its summit, whilst another independently compares itself to a cloud. In Invisible World a rock finds itself indoors. Here it resides by the window, looking out to sea, caught in a moment of wonderment. Dürer’s Melencolia too contains a rock, but here it is by contrast a smooth polyhedron, a mysterious quasi-mathematical object, amongst tools and signs of knowledge, measurement, and culture. The image of the Dürer in Harvey-Regan’s studio is cropped, focusing in upon the polyhedron. Its composition is almost identical to that of the Magritte. They appear side by side at the back of Harvey-Regan’s book, The Erratics, published by RVB Books.
The Erratics is a body of work comprising photographs, sculptures, now a book with an artist-written parenthetical text, which focuses upon stone formations and sculpted chalk, taking as its subject the process of making as well as, if not more than, the what is made. An early crossing from the raw into the technological emerges. Harvey-Regan begins with dry and totem-like stones in the desert, drawing attention to matter and the smooth, sometimes-peeled surfaces of some of the stone. Rocks attest to the forces of wind, water, temperature and time, and here reveal sections of surfaces that appear so defined as to have been mechanically altered. We can think of these objects, continually changing with a duration beyond our comprehension, as objects in-formation. They are also objects that act upon us. On the following page, a sliced piece of chalk, cut cleanly in two, figuratively carves away at our imagination of natural formation, pointing to matter progressively shaped as sculpture, as architecture, as the creator of space and spatial perceptions.
From here, Harvey-Regan introduces and alternates the ‘found’ sculptural stones with images of the sliced forms the artist has made in the studio. Resting on a pristine white plinth, a chalk sculpture extends the hard edges of the plinth’s vertical lines, whilst possessing the same hard black shadow on its front face. Each has a delicate precision, sensitising vision whilst taunting the line between actuality and illusion. Each work in chalk requires the artist to balance not only the spatial consonances of the sliced chalk on its plinth, but the lighting of the space and the placement of the camera in the same environ. From material that might have appeared so immanently natural, Harvey-Regan constructs a network of dialogues between object, tool, artist, camera and receiver; The Erratics presents a series of photographs and photographed sculptural works, which draw together the rough and the formed. Like its surrounding text, which moves in and out of focus, it seems specific, and yet frames a much bigger subject, a technics of time. ♦
Images courtesy of the artist. © Darren Harvey-Regan