Hey Days! is a group show by five painters. The works are based around the idea of the past; directly or obliquely they evoke another time or place.
Siân Hislop reproduces photos of posing teen idols from decades past in detailed ink paintings. Like an obsessed adolescent fan, prone to compulsive staring and collecting, she concentrates her attention on these isolated subjects, the backgrounds are often deleted. All the superficial, outdated details are represented - clothing, postures and hairstyles. All are faithfully fixed in ink. More than acts of passive observation, each of these works forms a kitsch vanitas.
Lisa McKendrick constructs her paintings using images from old slides found in car boot sales, or on Ebay - other peoples’ unfamiliar and discarded photos of the past. Shadows and silhouettes hint at things that were once particular: a motel sign, a country road, a first home, a new car. McKendrick creates an uncomfortable, empty landscape from these different elements - detached from any of the people and associations that gave them meaning in the past. Each painting represents a place that is dreamlike, though uncannily familiar.
Ruth Solomons looks back to abstract expressionism, but approaches this through a different process. She works in a considered way, patiently building up an abstract image from smaller, often repeated motifs. Skillfully using tonal shifts, scale and colour, she responds to what has been painted before, thereby setting up a complex spatial logic within each work. Veils of individual paint-drips play against blunt, opaque brush marks; silhouetted forms drift over and through the tangles of paint. Adventurous, seemingly unbidden, they are puzzling and
Gabriel Tejada’s paintings depict remnants or displaced objects. Like the flotsam and jetsam of a shipwreck, they seem to have landed haphazardly in post-apocalyptic wastelands. In some of these images effigies, swathes of fabric, and indistinct fabricated objects seem unaffected by gravity, still moving, or floating, in the chaos of their new environment. There is a sense that something terrible has happened, and this forsaken terrain scattered with unconnected debris is all that is left of human life.
Ben Walker paints unidentifiable children from once upon a time. Innocently nude, they hold hands - their small feet edging up against overwhelming shadows. Some play amongst white flowers, or feed deer, absorbed and unaware. Walker’s handling of the paint sets the psychological tone. The palette is sombre, the brushwork sparse. Paint is scrubbed hard into the open weave of the canvas. Deeply serious, these paintings provoke sadness and concern for the children in these cold, threatening places, and fear of unimaginable atrocities.
Text by Brooke Fitzsimons
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