AboutGod has given you one face, and you make yourself another.
William Shakespeare, Hamlet
This is Ken Spooner's second exhibition at Millennium and the fifth time that we have worked together on solo projects. For me this is, without doubt, his most personal exhibition to date.
Much of the work, was made during and subsequent to a period of ill health for Spooner, and
recovery from serious illness for his wife Pat. The effect could be seen as a change of direction from his last exhibition âSkin' in fact it is more a galvanizing of themes, emotional and formal that have been investigated by Spooner over the many years that preceded. But with typical verve, all has been thrown in to the mix alongside an urgency to enforce the statement.
Spooner tells me of the making of the first piece â1000 slides', close-ip details of which are featured on the cover of the publication. He was confined to his bed, unable to move a great deal. He had acquired almost 1000 microscope slides, and began selecting faces from magazines and media, and placing them beneath the glass, then doctoring and manipulating the public image, creating masks, hiding identities and revealing new ones. Each slide, becoming a primitive archetype to be placed under the microscope for examination. Who have we become? This critical question sets the pulse.
The manipulation of such media continued, scratching surfaces, drawing, doctoring, excavating the primitive from the idols of the present. Reversing the Warholiancredo. The face, the mask, the true identity then became the theme. His own portrait - universal portraits identifying us as the culmination of 30 thousand years of friendship, conflict and dogma. Our heads, and thoughts blown apart and reassembled, returning us to savage form. Rather that merely investigating and examining our psyche. The treatment is to create an explosion frenetic almost violent, creative energy consuming the themes with intuitive urgency. These themes art, identity, religious dogma, the primal, our childhoods, our collective violence, the media, all themes human, rub shoulders, often shoulder barge to cultivate a portrait of truth. The works do not pull punches, but they also contain humour and revel in play.
The paintings are heavy impasto almost chewy and the marks are expressive - they are often adorned with attachements - Spooner claims that his work is the result of bringing the studios debris together - both physically and metaphysically. The sculpture continues this mode - it is raw using a variety of media and the result is iconic.
This is a major exhibition which enforces not only Spooner as an artist or rare nerve, but it also enforces the notion of the artist as maker - an antidote to the mass market, factory produced art of our times. This is an exhibition where the pulse of the drum pounds a more enduring beat
Joseph Clarke. 2011