Tommy Grace: Dummy

2 April - 12 June 2009

Ingleby Gallery is very pleased to announce Dummy, our first solo exhibition by Tommy Grace, in our street-level space, Gallery II. For this show, Grace draws on his alter-ego as a graphic designer, using the design industry’s standard dummy text Lorem Ipsum as his starting point for a series of new collages. The origins of Lorem Ipsum are contested, but it is thought to have begun with an unknown printer who adapted a short extract from Cicero’s 45BC treatise on ethics, ‘The Extremes of Good and Evil’ to make a specimen book. Though centuries have since elapsed, the text remains in everyday use, its function essentially the same: to emphasize form over meaningful content so the reader is not distracted. Grace has designed and printed his own newspaper using this text, and from it has meticulously cut and crafted a series of intricate formal patterns. Through these, Grace creates subtle allegories for the ways in which we see (or fail to see) that which is before us. In the translation of the first line of this ‘nonsense’ text can also be found words with which many an artist might identify in their endeavours: "There is no one who loves pain itself, who seeks after it and wants to have it, simply because it is pain..."

Another historical source lies behind two new lithographs, published by the gallery, which Grace will present within floor-standing wooden structures. The four sculptures sitting atop the sarcophagi of the Medici Chapel – Day & Night, Dawn & Dusk - are some of Michelangelo’s most puzzling and enigmatic works. Using found photographs of the roughly hewn, unseen backs of each figure, Grace has printed each coupling in vivid contrasting colours onto both sides of a sheet of lightweight paper. Seen from front or back, one figure merges with the other as light passes through the translucent paper, creating a beguilingly beautiful riddle. Though clearly allegories for the transience of life and the cycle from birth to death, no one has ever been able to fully decipher the meanings Michelangelo embedded within these four melancholy statues, and with these new prints, Grace adds another layer of mystery, presenting these momento mori in a vibrant new form.

Grace was born in Edinburgh in 1979, and graduated from Edinburgh College of Art in 2002. He currently lives with artist Kate Owens in London (they also work collaboratively as Owens & Grace). The pair were co-founders and curators of influential artist run gallery The Embassy in Edinburgh from 2003-2006, and recent exhibitions have included: Destroy Athens, 1st Athens Biennale (2007); I can’t live without… The Showroom, London (2007); and A Colour Box, Arcade, London (2008).