Charlie Don’t Surf explores generational relationships with imagery and visual culture, considering how associations adapt and alter over time. In a departure from the miniature paintings in oil and encaustic Golden is best known for, large-scale sumi watercolour and ink works reimagine found photographs and illustrations to embody an interrelation between past and present.
Appropriating the exhibition title from a line in the 1979 film Apocalypse Now, which in turn became the title of a song by the Clash, Golden’s new series of paintings use photographs of American soldiers surfing during the Vietnam War as a visual reference, juxtaposed with found illustrations from retro Science Fiction. Influenced by Sontag’s 1965 essay ‘The Imagination of Disaster’, Golden explores cultural anxieties in relation to visual culture; by painting the ‘unthinkable’ – be it conflict, apocalypse or a long lost time-period – the artist exposes universal concerns of the human psyche.
Depictions of surfing, exploration and the prehistoric period provide visual references to the relationships between pleasure and freedom and man versus nature. In From the land of the new rising sun and Said, you’re gonna find the new world is smoulderin’, thrill-seeking surfers appear jarringly oblivious of a looming Jurassic landscape. Procession of the equinoxes and Analogous sequence in different parts depict riders surfing through apocalyptic hazes of reds and yellows, the figures barely visible within a seemingly uninhabitable climate. In Waiting for the axe to fall we perceive a faintly discernible anti-hero, sheltering below the blurred figure of an imposing dinosaur.
Utilising imagery from the 1920s through to the late 1970s, Golden’s cross-temporal watercolours are influenced greatly by the film adaptation of Arthur Conan Doyle’s time-travelling novel The Lost World (1925), and its intricately hand-painted sets; through her own time-travelling overview of visual culture, Golden questions how we posit value to an image. Her recent research into the traditions of botanical painting, for example, led her to apply this technique to explore the exaggerated use of plant imagery in dystopian science fiction from the 1950s.
The re-imagination of her source materials – film stills, photographs and illustrations – allow Golden to manipulate the viewer’s experience, uncovering hidden truths and revealing new narratives through her works.
Born in Chicago in 1959, Golden has lived and worked in the UK since 1989; her own cross-cultural experience informs much of her work.
Golden has exhibited extensively for over 20 years throughout Europe and America, with solo shows including Good Morning Mister Williams, Marlborough Contemporary, London (2014); Auction Paintings, World Legend, Lisbon (2013); Love and Hysteria, Fondacion Elektra, Paris (2007-2008) and Nothing Personal, Gulbenkian Foundation, Lisbon (2004). She studied at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago between 1974-78, returning to complete an MFA in 1984, and recently received a Certificate of Botanical Art at The English Gardening School.