AboutPaul Becker's images are hard to define. What makes them so initially difficult is their apparent lack of continuity. Their themes are as multiform as the progression of a daydream and can follow the same smoky thought pattern. The erotic, the puerile, the gentle and the arcane co-exist as uncomfortably here as they would within the heart of a reverie. Because the themes are so equivocal, there is a requisite need for an amount of formal clarity, so that what is happening will be immediately apparent even though the implications of this may be more evasive. The paintings are too âworked up' to be related to loosely handled âbucket and mop' expressionism. On the other hand, they are also too weird and painterly to come under the aegis of the rigidly academic.
The Ghost Of A Fart (2007) seems to tap into to the rich vein of scatological, ribald humour often passing unremarked upon but always bubbling under peculiar to British art from the eighteenth century onwards. There is a tangible sense of enjoyment, even self-mockery around Becker's fascination with the history of British painting and illustration. Where Is Love? (2007) continues this theme as a headless version of (Dickens illustrator) George Cruikshank's âOliver Twist' is rendered otiose by his inability to study his book and thereby to understand his own history. Bukkake Mountain (2007) refers to a Japanese group sex practice. Here, the image of a geisha embedded in a pink âmountain' recalls the plight of the central character of Samuel Beckett's âOh! Les Beaux Jours!' (âHappy Days'), but here the woman is stuck forever in the amber of male resentment. Mysoginista (2007) also seems to ironicise traditional male anxieties as a winged demon, straight out of an Italian Renaissance painting, emerges from between a woman's legs. The implied humour seems to act as a kind of friendly Trojan Horse, an encouragement to accept the seriousness of the images (and these paintings are wholly serious) without limitation.