The Rude Gesture
Thom Trojanowski Hobson, Dickon Drury, Harry Bland, Rae Hicks and Ben Jamie
3rd – 20th December 2017
Private View 2nd December 2017
Curated by Kristian Day
Rectangles within rectangles. An angled mirror, an open window, an inscrutable brick wall. Paintings speak of themselves and their making by way of object-metaphors. The power of painting to show us something, a place, an object, remains potent. But times have changed and these old reflexive tricks don’t connect as they once did. The rectangle of the canvas now receives images that resonate with the mobile and mutable screens of the smartphone and computer. Copy and paste, dimensions variable, cropped, distorted and animated in Photoshop.
Internet video transmits a constant image of comedy and cringeworthy actions, of falling cats and cartoon logic. These paintings gesture toward this world of shocks and pranks. The lumpy, the limp, raw sausages draped like spent balloons, goo and gunge, mustard and ketchup. The rectangle of the painting becomes a celebration of absurd effort, like a pantomime horse pulling in opposite directions, we steal a look beneath the costume and laugh even harder. Painting as desktop, hot dog stand, birthday e-card, sci-fi set or theatrical production. Cartoon utopianism and nihilism provides a front for an earnest engagement with the paint itself, with the question of how to paint and what to paint in the age of the Internet.
Hypnotic teapots pour rainbow juice into one another, suggesting that underneath all this activity we’re all hooked into the same sources. A languid tiger skin smiles and licks after the tails of a dozen smudgy rats, lacking the rigid body or aptitude to make the kill. Veils of spray paint set up a densely layered space in which nebulous
bodily forms are qualified with heavy outlines and cartoon highlights. A Wi-Fi signal transmits from a city on fire. Flesh pink, curdled yellows and raw reds recur in the palettes of each painter and achieve the effect of an outward push. A man and woman stand before an exploding image — he extends a cartoon finger and received a shock. From each painting emerges a space that is both broken up and abundantly full, prioritising impact over slow disclosure. Too-close-for-comfort is the target distance; these paintings don’t recede into contemplation but instead force themselves out through the conduit of the rectangle.
David Surman, artist and writer