press release

The superficial and ephemeral nature of our relationship with mass-mediated popular culture directs us to the surface gloss of the page or screen, which itself becomes the signifier in an abstract pictorialism.

Each of the artists included in the exhibition make image based work derived from a second-order popular cultural source: tv / magazines / advertising which also engages with a level of abstraction (or non-signification). Adopting a technique of sampling and collage these works reflect on our media-saturated environment to reach a stark conclusion: We can’t get no satisfaction.

We experience an un-ending sequence of unfulfilled promises, as a hyperreal world of information-excess seeks to tempt us with one commodity or another. Loosely located within the post-pop art context, the selected artists share an attitude of indifference to over-stimulated signification, where technological depiction connotes blankness and results in an un-ending cycle of desire-led-consumption. The juxtapositions of figures and passages of abstraction blur critique and objectification, as an abstract pictorialism emerges as a common language. There are echoes in this juxtaposition in Michelangelo Antonioni’s progressive film "The Red Desert” (1964). The film usefully contrasts desire and disassociation as we witness the beautiful and distracted Monica Vitti wandering aimlessly through the technologically ‘formalised’ landscape of artificial colour. She is in a state of emotional immunity to the chaos of her dehumanised and alienating environment. The neutrality of this juxtaposition suggests a commentary which Antonioni’s aesthetic articulates; one of seductive corruption.

The works in this show frame appropriated images from the world of media saturation in a space emptied of social or temporal signification, this is the simulated space of the hyperreal where the rational scrutiny of the image’s meaning is corrupted by its opaque immediacy. What results from this hybridized and denatured form of representation? We are left with a continuous dream of putrefaction.

Marilyn Minter and Josie McCoy incorporate images of cropped fragments of figures in a blank, emptied out spaces of flatness. These are glimpses of figures which acknowledge their source in glamour photography. Their power to seduce speaks of their own “desire for attention” as would-be icons of consumer excess, as much as a play on the viewer’s gaze.

Luke Caulfield echoes Minter’s interest in the construction of the magazine photo, but sources self-conscious images of attitude on display, which suggests the narcissistic self regard of an image reflected. Caulfield’s work is in part a nostalgic celebration of teenage allegiances to rock bands, the identity determined through the figures posture and stance contrast both with the monotonous method of execution and the bland banality of empty bedroom boredom. Sean Dawson’s paintings take photographic images of destroyed interiors as the starting point. Dawson then fragments the imagery, developing kaleidoscopic or symmetrical abstractions which seem to float in-between implosion and explosion, caught in a state of flux. Where meaning falls out of reach between the gaps. Amanda Beech also approaches her digital collages as detailed acts of re-assemblage, where the principals of symmetry and order are not quite as they appear. The confrontational display of ‘Dean R Koonst’ belies a structure of subtle fracture, where systematic corruption implies an institutional violence. Jos Richardson’s ecstatically charged videos build in intensity as they reach a Wagnerian climax, the machine-gun pace peaks as a conveyer-belt montage of advertising slogans and bodily fragments command us to submit, and absorb the sensorial assault as we lie prone on the artist’s DIY massage table. The workings of an internally reflecting world are further developed in the paintings of Dereck Harris and Kirsten Glass, where a synthesis of appropriated figures from clubbing / fashion magazines are collaged into spaces of fantastical abstraction. These non-places of sound and fury signify excess, excitement and gloss. Glass incorporates a DJ style sampling attitude to collage where dislocated and prefabricated emotional expressions are grafted into the textual frame of song lyrics writ large; an amplified poetic syntax of disassociation. Harris’s tracings of the images generation become the fissures of deterioration, the artificial paradise of toxic colour and mutated pixels combine in a hybrid synthesis of representation and abstraction.

William Tuck and Gavin Tremlett, share an interest in the inherited language of pop art and figure painting, they juggle with a mix of iconography and found imagery – applying the finesse of a DJ’s sampling sensibility to an eclectic and poetic collage activity.

Anton Henning’s work is characterized by great vitality and a virtually elastic use of all sorts of images, motifs and visual quotations. Abstraction and figuration are used inter-changeably and sometimes literally converge. His nudes are quaintly realistic but at the same time display Henning's unmistakable handwriting and use of vivid patterns, the eddying patterns of these paintings bring to mind the psychedelic‚ interiors of the seventies and convey an entirely personal realm of color and movement.

Jennifer Allen’s videos parody the performance of the striptease with a mimetic edge that invokes pastiche, as she confronts her parents with the seductive and reckless Christmas present: ‘Happy Christmas Mom and Dad’.

Marcus Harvey’s ‘Julie from Hull’ is a well–documented painting from the mid-nineties, where the inter-relation of confrontational critique and provocative objectification summarise the curatorial premise of the Exhibition: The paradox of futile desire and impotent seduction.

The Dream of Putrefaction
Kurator: Dereck Harris

mit Jennifer Allen, Michelangelo Antonioni, Amanda Beech, Luke Caulfield, Sean Dawson, Kirsten Glass, Dereck Harris, Marcus Harvey, Anton Henning, Josie McCoy, Marilyn Minter, Jos Richardson, Gavin Tremlett, William Tuck