Christopher Battye, Francesca Blomfield and Dustin Pevey represent three generations of painters who regardless of age are reckoning with kindred ideas while interrogating the limits and potential of their medium, one which anchors us to traditional form in an otherwise hyperactively evolving visual realm.
Christopher Battye’s paintings are full of the lively Soho and Chelsea community of The Colony Room infamy, often featuring scenes from nights out and alcohol inspired histrionics. The paintings are at once fun and furious, conveying a mayhem that relates to a real dynamic sense of living in the centre of the capital in its most pulsing moment. His two-headed, multiply-limbed and intriguing amorphous caricatures are witty and ironic, powerful and playful whilst often frightening. We see a riot of colour and charge in images of spinning heads, psychosexual drama and theatrical violence; the mood is hectic and alive, grounded in archetype, symbolism and rampant use of colour. The artist casually deals in psychoanalytic concepts of splitting, schizoid fantasy, false selves, and narrative therapy with the symbolic potency and awareness of the Marseilles tarot deck and Jungian allegory. This relationship with the transformational process of committing psychic charge to paint - a medium which is deliberately concerned with slowness - allows for a space in which to meditate, consider and recreate a subject position threatened by overwhelm.
The work of Francesca Blomfield is sympathetic to the notion of deconstructing / unrepressing in the act of artistic expression, and her method of painting contains a similar energy of conflict. The artist conceives painting as methodological self-surgery in which she relates interiority via alternative histories of art making. The works are small but highly concentrated and textured with a baroque excessiveness that fizzes over into the inclusion of text. The meanings of the words are folded into the wrought surface of the paint, creating a unified atmosphere of confusion and tension. The words are both enigmatic and activated by the energised application of paint and colour, containing an unknowable force at work on the subconscious mind. Blomfield introduces several unexplained motifs (a key symbol for example) left hanging for a sense of poetic intrigue. The use of words and symbols seem to work in resistance to the surface of the paintings, like glitches or accidents fighting for prominence in a turbulent visual field.
Dustin Pevey’s paintings operate similarly in terms of using a layering form, drawing on digital compositions and found images from within our contemporary visual hyperstimulation. His works are manic compositions of symbolic scraps from the everyday; advertisements, logos, graffiti, cartoon, details of paintings and photos of digital prints of paintings. The works offer a kind of formalised screenshot of our digitised psychic life, the cyber environment into which we have all uploaded our thought processing. The paintings produce a uniquely desolate dimension, at once vacant and busy, which corresponds to much of our experience of internet / consumer-driven culture. The symbolism seems to offer a kind of frazzled world-view committed to representation and form for the sake of emulating the obsessive, distracted, micro-interactions to which we are increasingly accustomed.