BEN DEAKIN, SAM DOUGLAS, ROSS WALKER ‘We are building a new world…’

2 – 25 June 2017

Place is where we find ourselves, assuming we feel the need to look – though as Gertrude Stein said going back to Oakland, the small California town where she grew up ‘there’s no there there.’ Better perhaps to take comfort in thinking we know where we are. There is a place (somewhere a place FOR US). There IS a place.

In paintings that collage spaces, collapse time and construct settings, these three artists bring us to a crux of painting – recognition as it collides with identification and an awareness of loss. In their very dfferent ways (and they were quite surprised to be joined together), whether abstract or figurative (though there are always figures there – it’s us, standing outside the painting) these artists show us places we’ve never been, could never get to, can only remotely inhabit – ‘I’ll need my oxygums cos we can’t breathe out there…’ Marine Boy returns from adventures that seem quaintly old-fashioned or maybe out of time. And there is no real time only real space, for us. In Deakin the space is possible but unreal, in Douglas the space is likely but unreachable (having long gone) and in Walker the space is impossible but materially absolutely real. A sense in Eliot’s words “not only of the pastness of the past, but of its presence.”

And finally, a political note. Now we’ve been turfed out of the place we thought we occupied in the world, and have been given no idea at all of where were heading, it seemed timely to borrow the bitter irony of the title of Paul Nash’s masterpiece.