This exhibition brings together a collection of new works by Rae Hicks, which attempt to utilise a connection between themselves and the gallery’s potential as a retail showroom or sales floor, drawing on leftover characteristics from its former life as entrance to a large car park.
Commercial design tropes such as those in property marketing, homewares, electrical products and screen layouts were the recent focus of Hicks’ studio practice as a way of examining their effect on conceptions of ‘real life’. Simultaneously, they also function as a means to test the deconstructive, transformative consequences of painting on such a visual language.
The title Real Life is an effort to gauge the tonal ambiguity of this phrase and sentiment, in the setting of the exhibition. Approaching the issue of ‘real life’ via painting, a focus of the works might appear to be that of disorienting artifice, and the visual flimsiness of contrived landscapes. In other words - their lack of any ‘real life’. Yet their very inclusion as subjects seems to propose them as a staple of daily experience.
Additionally, the act of painting itself always entails its own blunt encounter with real life. The work titled “ Bruise Cruise” was intended to simply depict the side of a coach, but became mangled through process, funnelling the work into a smoking cartoon tantrum constituting both an admission of artistic failure, whilst begrudgingly nodding to the ‘real life’ absurdity of endeavour.
Likewise, the ghost of painting’s obsession with its own death, and perpetual necessity to ‘breathe new life’ into itself quietly haunts Hicks’ practice, recalling the association of ‘Real Life’ with the ever-coveted badge of legitimacy.