” … identity will always be something that must be created. What we have on our hands is something that is essentially unfinished. Instead of looking for repose, instead of looking for some collective or individual “end of gay history” in the complete and full adequation of oneself, we had better accept the inevitably provisional unforeseeable character – on both the individual and collective levels – of what it means to be gay.”

Didier Eribon, ‘Insult and the Making of the Gay Self’.

Our painting practices, in different ways, draw on some form of collage process, either manually or in the use of digital layering. To quote J. A. Nicholls : “ There’s something pleasingly excessive going on, beyond the idea of an ending (or an identity), a surplus aspect (or ‘plus-value’ to use a term used by Paul Ricoeur about metaphor) which emerges in some collage painting. It’s definitely active as it holds the viewer’s attention in the instance of a performance between parts. All our borrowing, displacement, transposition and deviation emphasises a doing rather than a done.”

‘between parts undone’ extends on the thesis proposed by Didier Eribon in ‘Insult and the Making of the Gay Self’, in which he suggests that queer identities are contingent, not fixed, and that, both collectively and individually, we are continually challenged and liberated to reconsider and re-form our identities in response to ever changing contingencies, internal and external. Who are our ancestors, our heroes and heroines, our fathers and mothers? How has the history of those who came before us made us that which we are, and what legacy will we leave for those who come after us? There is no ‘there there’, or resolved state towards we march, except perhaps as a utopian ideal. Rather, our being, the shaping we make of ourselves and the narrative we construct to order our lives and our wider communities, are in a continual state of flux. This contingent state of fluidity presents us, not with a hindrance, but instead, with the boundless opportunity for creation and re-creation.

The exhibition creates a dialogue across the works of three painters in which these questions find echoes and different kinds of answers, drawn out of differing experiences. We are artists whose practices evidence a consciousness of our position as situated in the history of identity. In our work, representations of the self and the body are not necessarily ones most conventionally depicted in mainstream culture, including those predominating in queer cultural imagery. We are interested in new ways of exploring experience that respond to these ideas of contingency, to how we find things now, and to the new, fast-changing and increasingly fluid world we are in. We are interested in imagining new ways of being .”

David Lock, Gavin Maughfling, J.A. Nicholls.

Artist biographies

J.A. Nicholls. Born in the UK, Nicholls studied painting at Chelsea College of Art and the Royal College, London. Selected exhibitions include the Performativity of Painting at the Stephen Lawrence Gallery, Greenwich, the Ruth Borchard Prize at Piano Nobile, the Royal Academy of Arts Summer Exhibition, Creative London, at Space_K, Gwacheon in Korea and Jerwood Contemporary Painters.

David Lock (b. Leicester) graduated from Goldsmiths, London with an MA in Fine Art following a BA (Hons) in Fine Art from The University of Reading. Recent exhibitions include ‘Creekside Open’ 2019 Selected by Sacha Craddock, APT Gallery, London, ‘Telescope’ curated by Nigel Cooke, Jerwood Gallery, Hastings, ‘John Moores Painting Prize’ 2018, Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool, ’The Performativity of Painting’, the Stephen Lawrence Gallery, Greenwich and a solo show ‘Fragmented Eros’ at studio1.1, London in 2018

Gavin Maughfling studied at the Ruskin School of Art at the University of Oxford, and subsequently at the University of East London. He has exhibited widely in the UK, Europe and Singapore. Recent exhibitions include the Creekside Open 2019, APT Gallery, selected by Sacha Craddock; Artworks 2019, Barbican Arts Project Space, selected by Emma Talbot and Alex Schady; ‘Did You See Me Coming?’ no format Gallery; ‘Beyond the Binaries’, the House of St. Barnabas, and ‘Over Time’, University of Greenwich and National Maritime Museum. With Suzanne de Emmony he co-founded DEM projects, curating international exhibitions in London and Singapore.