Paul Housley, Juan Bolivar, Peter Jones, Gary Spratt, Toby Ursell, Casper White, Phil King, Matthew Collings
Call me a horse
‘Call me a horse!'*
'You are a horse!'
Shakespeare meets 'Singing in the Rain'; two quotes, or 'mis-quotes' if you like, brought together making a cheap gag. 'Pop' meets 'CULTURE'.
Painting is the opposite of a cheap gag, yet a cheap gag can often inspire one to paint. Although the paintings in this show go far beyond a visual pun, humour is there - and why not? Not in post-modernism's 'ironic' way - it's more subtle than that. Dead pan, perhaps, but dare I say it, there's romance there too.
Perhaps united by a form of meta-painting in various guises, the artists in this show are explicit in their quotes from painting's long history. Be it a gesture, an 'ism', a specific painting or art historical 'myths', contrasting elements are fused, quoted if you like, re-configured into something fun. Playful may be a better word. Bart Simpson inhabits a Mondrian, a cuddly bear recalls Courbet, The Night Tailor (whose pose suggests a drink or two) would surely get on with Manet's Absinthe Drinker; they are all, after all, cut from the same cloth. The Bard is here too, there in Phil King's hotel, pared down but instantly recognisable from a seventeenth century portrait that may or may not even be of him. Unreliable narrator. Doubt creeps in, but that's part of the game.
The nods to the past are there in all but broken down. Each painter's unique and exact way of looking hopefully makes this a disparate yet united exhibition, one that will make you smile. Painting has everything, yet nothing, to do with the past, it's all about the now but, like a cheap gag, the good ones don't get old.
*Shakespeare, Henry IV Part I, spoken by Falstaff