5 – 29 July
A literal heir to playwright Joe Orton and in painterly terms a descendant of Patrick Procktor, David Lock brings a distinctly post-modern but oddly non-ironic, and certainly celebratory eye to society portraiture. An (ideal) society portraiture which goes hand in hand with baser desires, as it always has.
A longing for the real or the unreal, or something hesitantly in between: despite being specifically warned against it, coveting our neighbour’s ox or ass is a pretty popular human diversion. And the spectrum of the male sex object can range from an anatomically outrageous Schiele nude right down to, literally, the boy next door. In David Lock’s new exhibition, his first at studio1.1, we are somewhere in the middle, since the men in these paintings, often in various states of undress, are unknown to the artist, are sourced from men’s fashion and lifestyle magazines, or are purloined from the internet. And they can be looked at in diametrically different ways.
In the ‘Misfit’ paintings the men often seem cowed, vulnerable and unsure of themselves, plucked from contexts we can only imagine and reconfigured as fragmented objects of desire. A desire they haven’t necessarily signed up for. It’s as if they don’t know what they’re doing there at all. New clothes, new body parts, new roles they haven’t quite mastered. As viewers we’re drawn through a multitude of subject positions, refused a single viewpoint, and only permitted a reading that’s unmoored, fluid and contingent.
In sharp contrast, in a new site-specific version of the ‘Looted’ collage, made specially for the show, the men snipped from magazines know very well what they’re up to. For some of them being an object of desire is their vocation. At least while their gym membership lasts, the classical sculptures they are hugger-mugger with are their own templates of perfectability. Others are differently idolised – for their contribution to gay history or queer culture. In line with their subcultural provenance, these stolen images are de-aestheticised, presented in the cheapest possible way.
The title ‘Looted’, is itself lifted from ‘Loot’, the best-known work of the hugely important gay playwright Joe Orton, Lock’s uncle, murdered by his lover Kenneth Halliwell fifty years ago. Collage in fact played an important part in the pair’s life; they created collages to smother the walls of their Islington flat, and for adding impertinent and scurrilous collages to scores, possibly hundreds of books from their local library they were arrested and sent briefly to prison.
The aim of Lock’s greyscale inkjet collage is very different and is among other things a tribute to them, but with its scattershot celebration of the male figure, heroic and otherwise, it is a clear acknowledgement of the way contemporary gay lives grow out of a shared gay legacy.
Study for ‘Saffron and Aspen’, 2018 relates to a large commissioned portrait of Saffron and Aspen Drewitt Barlow. Their parents Barrie and Tony were the first gay men in the UK to father children through surrogacy.
Lock’s painting ‘El Muniria’ has been selected for the John Moores Painting Prize, 2018 at the Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool.
Born in 1970, David Lock graduated from Goldsmith’s London with an MA in Fine Art, following a BA (Hons) in Fine Art from the University of Reading. He has shown his work both nationally and internationally. Selected recent exhibitions have included ‘Creative Rage’ at Stoke Potteries Museum, ‘The Performativity of Painting’, The Stephen Lawrence Gallery, Greenwch, ‘What the Artist Saw: Art Inspired by the Life and Work of Joe Orton’, MOCA, London, and ‘DadaFest; Art of the Lived Experiment’, Bluecoat Gallery, Liverpool.
Lock is the recipient of the prestigious Abbey award, at the British School at Rome October 2011 – June 2012. He lives and works in London.