Curated by Angelica Sule & Richard Gallagher
âThe work of Hugh Mendes freezes the fleeting moments of Fleet Street by preserving the ephemeral nature of newspapers, and the historical content they inevitably contain, embalming them in paint and canvas forever. Rather than perusing headlines like junk food, we are left with a lasting taste of the social and political to ponder at will and at length.' Kenny Schachter
Throughout human history there have been certain moments and events that have affected global consciousness in such a profound way that the world stands still. On September 11th 2001, we experienced one such moment as the twin towers came crashing down in New York. Now, on the 10th anniversary, Hugh Mendes looks back over his personal record of the 9/11 attacks and the aftermath presented through painting, drawing and original newspaper clippings.
Mendes has been painting images of newspaper clippings for the last ten years. They came to prominence in his work following 9/11, which was the day of his MA graduation. That day he showed a painting of Osama bin Laden pointing a gun at a triumphant George Bush. It had been painted about a month previously in response to Bush's contested election victory. As the external examiners were marking the show, Mendes absentmindedly turned on the TV at home. The first thing he saw was the second plane flying into the twin towers and he started videotaping immediately. It was not until the next day that he realised the Arab with gun clipping that he had found blowing down Brick Lane, was of Osama bin Laden. It seemed a shockingly prophetic painting. He then collected all the papers for the next week, and made a series of paintings sourced from the coverage of the 9/11 attacks. It catapulted him into working exclusively with newspaper clippings as source material. He has explored the repercussions of the so called ' War on Terror' and the subsequent devastation of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
With the rather timely killing of Osama bin Laden, this memorial exhibition represents a selective history of the last decade and how it has been described to us through the media.
Transcribing newspaper articles, the paintings filter the information we receive on a daily basis to give us only hints at what is happening. While having a focus on the fall out of the 9/11 attacks, we also catch a glimpse of what else is considered newsworthy. Exercising his own journalistic integrity, Mendes presents his potted history of the last decade, showing the devastating alongside the more trivial. A painting of Farrah Fawcett's obituary sits alongside a clip referencing the 9/11 trials. Nothing is too extreme or too banal. We are given facts but out of context. It is Mendes' own personal newspaper.
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