My first impressions of Inverted House include a distinctive whiff of emulsion, which I believe came from the painted fire-board structure jutting off the gallery wall. Painted upon the board is a scene of figures in a vast landscape, looking up at a tall architectural structure. This piece offers a good introduction to the whole installation itself, which is very much about temporary structures and displacement.
Going through into the main project space, there are similar structures sitting amongst paintings and drawings. These are painted along with the walls in muted oranges, turquoises and burgundies, like relics from the days before today's white, minimalist museum walls. There is also play with the traditional museum aesthetic in Ilić's paintings – here museum glass sits on shelves with the paintings half-drilled into the wall, forming a kind of semi-permanent fixture. This feels very relevant to the Tate Modern, which still has its Turbine Hall cordoned off for redevelopment, leading to a disruption of its normal flow. It is also worth mentioning here that the Museum of Contemporary Art in Belgrade (where the residency was created in collaboration with the Tate Project Space) has been closed to the public for the last six years.
Another notion explored in Inverted House is the nature of the artist residency, an activity measured by both time and geography – in which an artist will normally spend a period of time living and working abroad. This perhaps offers an explanation for the tent stretched out on ceiling. The tent used, however, is small in comparison to the large area of ceiling and doesn't produce much effect. Similarly, there is a composition of chairs on one side of the gallery which doesn't really seem to work with the rest of the space. The chairs are perhaps meant to set a scene for discussion, but they get lost in the overall aesthetic.
A core element of the installation, and indeed the practice of both artists, is drawing and painting. Works by Ilić include wonderful compositions of people circled around a fire with their blue laptop screens shining. He also displaces small figures in vast landscapes, adding to the disjointed feeling of the tent and other temporary structures. Gverović's Parastate paintings have backdrops of a similar palette to the walls, and contain unfinished lines of houses and cars in electric pinks and yellows, giving the impression of half-completed dot-to-dots.
It is not surprising to learn that Gverović and Ilić have previously created artists' books together, as their paintings and drawings have a sensitivity to them which makes the paintings seem more like drawings. They do, however, become a bit lost within the project space, which I don't feel is intentional. Ultimately, they could have created a more dramatic installation in the space, for example using the tent concept or the pairs of chairs more effectively, which take up only a small, disciplined section of the space.
A better use of space is perhaps realised in the final room, where paintings and text, including Without Delay, are displayed in a darkened and much smaller space, creating a better sense of intimacy. The walls have been painted a dark grey and tell stories of displacement, including the story of a family whose house had been hit in an air strike four times. Again, there is play with the museum aesthetic, as the paintings are displayed in a concrete cabinet behind museum glass.
Inverted House is Gverović and Ilić's first UK museum show and is definitely worth a visit – its strength really being the intimacy achieved in the last room. The main project space of the installation was perhaps not quite as ambitious as a house turned on its head should be. However the Project Space includes some interesting experiments with the concept of a museum, which is undoubtedly relevant to both collaborating institutions.