Opening Saturday 5 September 2015 from 12pm – 2pm
Exhibition concludes Saturday 3 October 2015 at 2pm
“The thirtieth century no longer replies”.[i]
Nigel Mullins’ works, from the Chaotic Region (2013) and beyond, present the disparate images of human existence as a compendium of fruitless tropes that has perpetrated, sustained and perpetuated Western culture since the 18th Century. The works draw every sacralised view and arch-theory into question. Even the designation ‘human’ with its defining sets of ideologies has become an obsolete remnant exposing every pedagogue and hero, every defining character as, at very most, ineffectual. The collection of works reflect the enveloping totality of contemporary culture and posits it clearly as a deadlock between past and present, as a title of his reiterates; a World Without End.
Through the catalogue of historical and near historical places, people and events (the subjects of Nigel’s paintings) speak of atrophied idealism, the significant and momentous at its final end, mundane. It draws as much from the Romantic tradition as our own civilization does. Elvis is featured in Time on Your Side, the Bust of Vladimir Lenin at the Remote South Pole, Queen Elizabeth – an Obsolete Remnant of the Industrial Age and the first human in space; Yuri Gagarin – “Your Bright Future Guarantee”. The ghostly entities of our collective mediated past and present are materialized and shaped in the plasticity of paint. They do not intimidate nor do they awe, they are infinitely familiar and we indifferent.
Nigel applies his material as libations covering a sacred artefact, an amulet, fetishistically (see Stand Here). The paint, dense in meaning and referential value, thickly covers the support as it alters and constructs. This explicitly references the painting as thing; as a support to which meaning, as material, is applied often in layers and over an expanse of time. It is not that the thick patinas of paint have no regard for the frame, and so, no consideration for the delineations of border. They recognize the boundaries specifically, some even bare their marginalia, titles, subtexts, as physical ‘charms’ suspended from below. Every painted mark, like the wiry phrases affixed to the frames of the paintings, is a litany petitioning nothingness and a no one.
“Throw Your Bones”, “For Unconstrained Well-Being”, “May Reduce Insignificance”, “Good Life Guarantee [Woodstock]”, “Resolve Puzzling Events, Confounding Variables & Disturbing Unpredictability”, “Throw Your Bones”.
The insistence of the materiality of paint exposes the frame-laden subtexts. It recognizes these as definitive entities, rich in cultivated meaning. The medium treats them physically as it treats the subject matter. With the sensual gesture and drama of paint application Nigel’s work then finally turns on the paint itself and exposes the sedimentary material as concomitant to the myths of Western civilization. It is the vehicle and medium that images our underlying desires, hopes and fantasies – the futility of its so-called gains.
[i] Jean Paul Sartre. The Condemned of Altona. p178. New York: Vintage Books, 1963.Download a copy of the article here
Download the article on Nigel Mullins’s exhibition: Obsolete Remnants of the Industrial Age, by following the link: Obsolete Remnants of the Industrial age, Fried Contemporary – “The thirtieth century no longer replies”.1 Wayne Matthews
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