‘Retrospective’ generally implies an exhibition which looks back at the career of an established artist. Lucinda Chua, a Nottingham Trent graduate, is only twenty-three, so by staging a retrospective installation she subverts this tradition. The concept behind the exhibition; according to the curator Amy Houmøller, was to ascribe a ‘reverence’ to Chua’s work which is normally only shown to well-known artists.
The exhibition as a whole is extremely imbalanced. Small, childhood snapshots sellotaped onto the walls clash in presentation and size with more recent, large, framed photographs displayed next to them. The eye is split between two extremes. The snapshots include the first photograph Chua ever took and are interesting from a documentary point of view but are visually only average, which is excusable considering her age. The more recent works consist of large, double portraits and constructed scenes which allude to a narrative. All of which are overtly staged, giving the subjects the appearance of wax works and disconnecting the viewer from the photograph.
One redeeming feature of the exhibition is a series of Polaroid’s of Chua’s friends in fancy dress. These possess mischief, irony and greater spontaneity. This exhibition shows that Chua’s work is not yet fully developed, which is understandable for such a young artist. However, this begs the question: was a retrospective, rather than a more coherent thematic exhibition appropriate?
A Retrospective is showing until 22nd February at Lakeside