With characteristic British wit and self-awareness, Hurlock's paintings embody the fraught relationship between artist and medium, staving off romantic notions of artistic struggle with tongue-in-cheek absurdity. His work trains its crosshairs on the boundaries between high and low culture; and the functionality, (or lack thereof) of artistic objects. Hurlock deftly negotiates a range of tropes frequently found in art history's past and present, appropriating and parodying traditional subject matter ranging from religious iconography and aspirations of artistic genius to the role of painting in the media-saturated modern world.
In Hurlock's most recent works, the transformation of functional items into functionless artworks takes centre stage. In Bed Protest Painting Sheet Haha (2017), the 'oil on canvas' standard is replaced with 'emulsion on king-sized bed sheet.' Deliberately cheap, huge in scale and quick to make, the painting reveals the artist's own subjection to, and protest against, the systems that designate value to a work of art. In the destruction of the bed sheet and disregard for material refinement, there is a pronounced irreverence towards judgments of taste and conventional artistic norms. The sarcasm of the gesture is encapsulated through the overwhelming textual rendering of laughter, directed simultaneously at the viewer and at the position occupied by the artist, locked in fruitless combat with painting itself.
In dialogue with this work is another new piece, Pineapple (2017), which sees Hurlock branching out into sculpture. With a nod to the tradition of the 'readymade,' Pineapple is concerned with the embellishment of a redundant found object. In similarly sarcastic tones, the sculpture transforms a used helium canister into a larger-than-life tropical fruit. Unlike the large scale, haphazard bed sheet, however, the sculpture exhibits a much more prolonged interpretation of the object, demanding much greater patience and time in its construction.
Other pieces include Beautiful Masterwork (2016), in which the proclamation of the highest heights of artistic endeavour is crudely scrawled over the canvas's abstract background, undermining aspirations of beauty through a synthesis of Pop and Graffiti. In Your Best Work isn't Always Your Biggest Work But it Also Probably Isn't Your Smallest Bananas (2016), Hurlock pursues his interest in the methodology of gathering and storing visual material, whilst continuing his self-deprecating parody of painting. In Warholian fashion, Hurlock turns to a seemingly throwaway digital image and reproduces it in order to attach to it some kind of value or authority. Amidst an abundance of pictures endlessly shared and forgotten about online, Hurlock highlights the conflict between digital culture and painting as two temporally distinct media, while the latter becomes increasingly reliant on the former in terms of both subject matter and self promotion.
In Unfinished Selfie (2016), Hurlock tackles the time-honoured tradition of self-portraiture, producing an image replete with all the signifiers of artistic greatness, including a garish shirt selection, a paint brush, a spray can, a pineapple and finally a globe, asserting plans for (art)world domination.
Also adorning the gallery walls are a number of small-scale gouache on paper works, produced for the exhibition and a new limited edition zine, the first release for God Save The Queen publications. A new London-based organisation, we were founded to promote the work of young artists based in the U.K. For our inaugural publication, Hurlock has been given complete freedom to write and illustrate as wildly and rudely as he sees fit, the results of which can be seen in several of these new pieces and the zine accompanying the exhibition.