Work by the London-based painter Hugh Mendes will be exhibited at GUSFORD | Los Angeles. This will be his first solo exhibition at the gallery. Mendes will show a selection of Obituaries, an ongoing trompe l’oeil series that the artist has been working on for over a decade. Referencing the classic film noir genre, D.O.A | The Good, the Bad and the Beautiful will focus on the Hollywood icons that Mendes has painted over the last 5 years.
Using clippings from the obituary section of British daily, The Guardian, as his source material, Mendes translates scraps of newspaper into intimate and detailed paintings. The photographs from which Mendes works are chosen for their iconic or irreverent qualities, and the paintings themselves serve as an act of remembrance which fix the memory of an entire life into a single image. The ephemeral nature of newsprint – not only a declining medium in itself, but one whose pages wilt and yellow over time – is negated, and transformed into enduring works of art.
Drawing his inspiration from the surrounding neighborhood, Mendes has brought together a diverse cast of characters aligned with Hollywood to include film, television and music. In his collection of images, we find the good, the bad, and of course, the beautiful. Through the act of painting each persona, Mendes’ work not only creates a site of remembrance, but also serves as a meditation on mortality. Confronted by a single image to represent the entirety of an individual, each painting begs the question – who were these people and who did we imagine them to be?
Hugh Mendes was born in a British military hospital on Armistice Day in 1955 in Hostert, Germany where his mother was a nurse and his father was a code-breaker for the British Intelligence. Mendes holds a BA Painting from Chelsea School of Art in London, and an MA Painting from City & Guilds of London Art School, where he continues to teach. On 9/11, the day of his MA graduation, Mendes showed a painting, unbenownst to him at the time, of Osama bin Laden aiming a gun at George W. Bush, in response to Bush’s contested election victory. Later that day the twin towers came down, and Mendes began obsessively collecting newspapers and clippings, relating to that story and others, which he has meticulously painted for over a decade. The Obituaries series began to develop in 2003 and has gradually become dominant within his body of work.