|Christopher Page ~ 11 - 14 september 2008
| studio 1.1
|text | images|
Open Thursday to Sunday, 12noon - 6pm.
Private view: Wednesday 10th September, 6 - 9pm
In an equal opportunity offensive, Christopher Page's sumptuous and fastidious oil paintings ask us what meaning symbols still have today in a world of meta-cliche where ‘irony’ excuses every insult. Is everything inter-changeable; is nothing sacred?
Although they have the intensity of a Dutch flower painting the erotic, the suggestive, the 'vanitas', are no longer allegorical but emptily explicit, and there’s nothing dumb about the insolence of the inhabitants of Page’s all too human zoo: to quote Eddy de Jongh, an analyst of !7th century Dutch paintings "Just what is it about this society that led to the demand for so many pictures that stretch the limits of decorum or push at the ‘schaamtegrens’ (border of shame)?"
Pushed into the animal world, questions of decorum are drained of all significance. There is nothing 'obscene' here (unlike say the Chapman Brothers), only the signifiers, divorced (is that entirely possible?) from the signified, and from anything other than cursory meaning.
But this is art that skates with some assurance close to the thin ice that is kitsch, reminding us that the era of the Nuremberg rallies was also that of Busby Berkeley. Is painting automatically immune from censure and can art or its audience have a sense of humour (unlike say the Chapman Brothers)? What privileges does art abrogate to itself? If Nolde’s beautiful flower paintings are uncontaminated by his fascism can Page’s art with its studied neutrality (goose)step aside from blame? Gratuitous symbolism? What if the role (of the artist) calls for it?
Must photo-realism nowadays then always be political/polemical (thinking of Hans Haacke or Komar and Melamid?) Or with history 'dead' is everything up for grabs? With no taboo left unsullied, whose sensibilities can claim priority? The boundaries of our own bigotry are exposed in Page’s deadly games with no referee, no safety net except artifice. 'Ceci n’est pas une pipe' - it’s only a painting.
The gorilla in a skullcap sits half-buried in sand - quoting Samuel Beckett - "Death and decay all around I see - Happy Days!" The walrus' necklace tells us that 'Art makes you free' (but is everywhere in chains). And a poodle parades a chain of mutually exclusive charms. Such fashion accessories remind us we can all be accessories to fascism.
'Bless us and save us', as Sir Jimmy Saville would say, the c**t.
Curated by GroupShow
For more information or images contact:
Michael Keenan on 07952 986 696