The Original Image
Private view: Thursday 10 March | 6.30-8.30pm
Luey Graves, Martin McGinn
Ausstellung: 11 March – 16 April 2016
44a Charlotte Road
London EC2A 3PD United Kingdom
l’étrangère is delighted to present The Original Image: a group exhibition featuring three artists who treat art historical sources as a flexible material to be re-interpreted, re-configured, and played with in the present.
The exhibition takes as its starting point the longstanding tension between art and image. While the canon of art history bears a heavy weight on artistic practice, images are permitted an unconfined circulation via the contemporary data streams that characterise our digital environment. Within this flux of extreme image-reproduction, how can artists address our state of cultural exhaustion? How can images from the past be transported to and questioned in the present? By the appropriating art history’s images, metaphors, symbols and archetypes, the works of The Original Image blur the boundaries between the original artwork and its many representations.
The work of British artist Martin McGinn addresses the complex relationship between contemporary painting and art history. In his works on canvas, the two-dimensional images of art history – pages from publications, photographs, posters and postcards – become tools with which McGinn questions their omnipresence. This focus on ephemeral reproductions exalts their status within the frame and ground of the canvas. Exhibition catalogues usually found on a coffee table for leisurely perusal become still lives in their own right, whilst printed reproductions of works by Goya, Picasso and Van Gogh become floating, scrunched-up sculptures. In other works, McGinn uses both real and painted pins and tape, which hold multiple images together in an illusory collage. This slippage between the illusion of depth and the flat reality of the canvas is key to McGinn’s undoing of the original image.
The work of Luey Graves also uses the medium of painting to collage together recurring motifs from art history. This bringing together of familiar fragments is intended to build alternative narratives to the canonical history of patriarchal representation. Like the floating movement of browser windows on a computer screen, Graves shifts these multiple planes into different formal compositions. Motifs of modernist sculpture, the caryatids of Ancient Greece and Etruscan Bronzes are contrasted with domestic activities, such as preparing vegetables or kneading dough. The rigid symbols of ‘high’ culture, which are brimming with objects and objectifications of female form, are playfully subverted by these household vignettes. Private and public are conflated in a poetic configuration within each intimate panel.
The photographs, drawings, and wall-based sculptures of Mark Corfield-Moore comparatively deny the viewer a stable narrative. By appropriating the styles, tastes and aesthetic orders of art historical movements, such as Rococo, Classicism, and the Baroque, Corfield-Moore fashions these sources into new, decorative configurations. From archival engravings of unrealised Rococo fountains to extravagant drawings of Venetian regatta boats, Corfield-Moore’s whimsical reference points from the past evidence the ubiquitous nature of categories such as leisure, pleasure, and play. For The Original Image, the artist has appropriated archival imagery of classical busts held at the British Museum, piped icing upon their surface and then re-photographed them. The juxtaposition of marble with a playful, sugary ornamentation, subverts these authoritative subjects and the weight of their individual histories. They become re-gendered; power and prestige falls to delicacy and fancy. For Corfield-Moore, the genuine article, or the original image, is but a starting point in a continuous chain of derivatives that he utilises as tools with which to construct a potentially infinite set of orders and formations.