Militant Artists ReUnion

is the title of an exhibition, co-curated by Michael Dunn and myself, to be held later this year, of the work of the three artists linked to in my last post. It will be a small show, just ten works each, and will concentrate particularly upon the way these (very different) painters referred to and quoted each other in their work. From my catalogue essay:

Fomison as an artist is proof of Jung’s proposition, that a colonising race inherits the unconscious of the people it has colonised. His dark places, whatever else they may be – transgressive, fearsome, tricksy – are never racially or culturally exclusive. Entering them, we enter a cave to which no-one is denied access, though many might not wish to go there. You cannot leave unchanged.

Clairmont’s work seeks transformation in the ordinary, the quotidian, the mundane facts of daily life. In his painted world, things are never stable, they mutate before our eyes, becoming other as we look at them. The perceptual distortions drug-taking causes – experienced, analysed, reproduced – become clues to possible reinterpretations of reality. Things are never what they seem.

Maddox’s X’s were famously conceived when he crossed out a failed painting in 1975 or thereabouts; he was not to abandon them in the twenty-five year’s work that followed. Similar ancient marks on cave or rock walls have been interpreted as entoptic imagery – the brain reproducing visual images of its own structure. Maddox’s works are a veil between him and the world: ravelling, torn, fragmentary, they look both ways, in to the mind of the artist and out to the mind of the viewer.

Another thing: each of these artists was extremely interested in the relationship between the brain/mind, the eye and the world. You could make a case for dividing up their subject matter in these terms: if Maddox painted the mind and/or the brain itself, Clairmont’s subject was certainly perception, or appearances, while Fomison evoked a quasi-naturalistic world in which the Polynesian, the Gothic/Medieval and the Modern are strangely mixed.

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