Viewing Tully’s show, as the spectator, I feel that I am also in a strange way a conqueror - that Lynchian notion to come inside, beyond the door, beyond the curtain, where many mysteries await. Chromin’ invites us into the personal realm of the artist and his thoughts at present.
A strange lucidity to many of the works that provokes a type of thinking where curious possibility and non-linear ideas emerge - we see the potential for mystery that lies within everything. Tully is to me, something like a prince in need of a kingdom; which is why he makes art. The objects that have evolved during his residency at Serial Space embrace this notion. He has embraced elements of chance and exploration to create a series of playful works that emerge from the ‘other’ side of his brain.
In viewing this show, my thoughts drift to Tully’s previous inflated sculptural works. Black Out (2007) epitomised these forms. Essentially a large garbage bag crafted into an inflated sphere, it was literally the exhibition of an idea in motion. Notions of an object defining and exploring a universal space (more meta than physical), we come to an understanding that we are all carrying the experience of Camus’ L’Etranger - lost in a world devoid of meaning, but unified to another through the shared vision of an object, which though surprising, is comforting.
The absurdity of the object, further illuminates Tully’s musings. Once proposed as a shelter, the work is more of a visual spectacle than a functional object, which to me is at the centre of Tully’s work - this idea of the potential for beauty lying in the everyday, the abstractness of everyday objects, and the mysteries of being and creating.
I remember a time far in Tully’s past, and realise things seem to have come full-circle. He once screen-printed Nietzsche (God is Dead for example) quotes onto old t-shirts, made a kissing booth where the host (Tully) is drunk, discussing it as an architectural and sculptural form with a (sexual) life of its own. There were songs about lost brain cells, miniature plans on tiny pieces of paper of large scale sculptural works embedded in some Ballardian urban landscape, that never eventuated into ‘real’ life. I still have them somewhere, in-between old books. Everything was an experiment, an adventure. Simple movements, actions to make a mark in our dreary landscape were forged through thought rather than feelings, on impulse and accident rather than a sketched out theory or plan. These accidents (no farce!) began to take shape, to set a standard for themselves, and only now beginning to ‘have a place in history, through its (and my) memory ’
In Black Out, although the object’s meaning was verging on seriousness, the reception in a gallery setting eventuated in spectators playing with the object as if it was some massive toy made for adults, though with some secret potential to implode or explode at any minute. This same element of playing and reality pervades much of Chromin’. Play in Tully’s work marks as a statement; a reaction - the opposite of death, war, heartbreak and everything that can be explained. He is the champion of youth, the individual, the ephemeral, and the transcendental.
The creation of something new is not accomplished by the intellect but by the play instinct acting from inner necessity. The creative mind plays with the objects it loves.
These new works elude the act of creation, the very motion itself; notably Painting my way out of a paper bag. It mimics the clumsy exploration one would make emerging from a childhood clubhouse. There are little trails left behind, evidence of the artist's presence, through movements and simple expressions of paint. I’ve always thought that painting is like drawing with water - and in this example Tully uses the temporary fluidity of painting in a new way - as an escape route, a performative introduction to a new medium within his practice. The fact he leaves the evidence behind for us to see - all crumpled and ill-formed, is a testament to a time in space, to fluid motion and to the intuitive act of creation. The first thought and movement in a situation has dried up on the paper as evidence to either confirm or crucify.
This making and breaking of shelters, the building of a temporary home outside, the construction of a personal universe is something that runs through Tully’s practice - particularly his inflatables - and it stems from his interest in non-formal architecture. We see the ability to make a home in an instant, and then destroy it again, just for fun. Like Gordon Matta-Clark’s Splitting (1974) and Days End (1975), we see that leaving your mark on a structure eventuates in the forging of a familiar yet unique action - which played out in a strange land makes you forget you’re not at home.
Other works explore colour as a pure force, as simple yet powerful, almost a medium itself, particularly with Tabula Rasa / Cleaning Dirty Paper and Still Life. I think of the ability to express emotions and ideas without the use of words, therein the colour in Chromin’ finds its true glory. Colours are seen as elements, with personalities and histories of their own, as the most primal force that ever was. Still Life reveals the elemental nature of everyday objects, nowadays seen more as trash than anything else.
Tully is expressing a world that is playful, yet meaningless. I know deep down that he is a nihilist and the potential and magic that lies in everyday objects and surroundings only serves to prove their arbitrary nature and uselessness. When viewing the show as a whole, I am reminded of the great Brion Gysin, who states "I enjoy inventing things out of fun. After all, life is a game, not a career. " Essentially, Chromin’ is about instinctual actions as a form of communication and exploration; a mission impossible for some, yet this work that stands follows that exact proposition. Things that unify and destroy are those that reveal the absurdity of human existence, and this ideology colours the actions of the artist. The only real and true things are his physical experiences, which are shown through the actions and evidences left behind.
I may write only what I know in space: I am that I am.