Following on from their recent joint exhibition at the Museo De Las Artes, Guadalajara, this will be the first time their work has been presented together in the UK, and Gary Oldman’s first major exhibition of photographs in a UK gallery.
Painter George Blacklock, and actor, filmmaker and photographer Gary Oldman have for the past twenty-five years engaged in a creative dialogue, sharing their respective journeys through painting, acting, filmmaking and photography; scrutinizing each other’s work and encouraging the development of new ideas. Throughout this discourse, common themes have emerged; Blacklock and Oldman explore the creative process as a quest to discover something unseen, located only through the process of production, addressing questions about narrative, originality, subjectivity and collaboration.
The first encounter between the two artists took place while Oldman was researching a role for the film Honest, Decent and True (1986) in which Blacklock’s paintings were used as props. Oldman visited the artist’s studio to prepare for the role, both literally and metaphorically stepping into his paint-splattered shoes. This initial meeting was the beginning of an important friendship, based on their discovery of common ideas and mechanics of making between acting and painting, and their shared search for an elusive, alchemical quality which they mutually define as ‘it’.
This fugitive state was referred to by the abstract expressionist painter Willem De Kooning who described himself as a “slipping glimpser”, saying “When I’m falling, I am doing all right. And when I am slipping, I say, ‘Hey, this is very interesting’ . . . That is a wonderful sensation... to slip into this glimpse.” 1
The curvilinear shapes and motifs seen throughout Blacklock’s paintings have developed as a continuation of historical narrative structures, forming an exchange with what he has termed as ‘ancestral voices’ of cultural history. Blacklock’s Pieta series took Michelangelo’s Pieta in the Florence Academy as a point of entry to examine further painterly possibilities. Working on this series over a period of several years, Blacklock developed a lexicon of interrelated shapes, through a process of repeating and distilling elements of Michelangelo’s original composition, striking a balance with the improvisational nature of his experimentation with colour and gesture.
The panoramic aspect of Oldman’s photographs suggests a cinematic narrative, in which the viewer is positioned behind the scenes. Working with a Swing-lens Widelux F6B in order to cover the full expanse of the eye’s experiential range, Oldman has described his use of the panorama as inviting the viewer to become immersed within the viewpoint of an alternate subjective persona. Photographing from the sets of films such as The Book of Eli (2010), and Child 44 (2015), Oldman navigates away from the centre of the action within each scene, concentrating on the discreet details occuring at their edges.
1. In Short; A Slipping Glimpser, Sarah Boxer, August 7, 1994, NYTimes.com