Parafin London presents the group show Blow up, and features a group of leading and emerging painters including Hannah Brown, Mark Fairnington, Hynek Martinec, Justin Mortimer, Issa Salliander, Jonathan Wateridge, Uwe Wittwer and Clare Woods. The exhibition explores connections between contemporary painting and photography.
Michelangelo Antonioni’s iconic film Blow Up offers the viewer a frame of reference in which to contemplate the work of the artists on display; each with their own relationship to photography from the perspective of the painter. Each artist employs photography as some aspect of their practice. The photographic image often lends itself as source material for a great many contemporary painters, but with the advent of digital technology the truth of the image has grown increasingly subjective, and has moved the medium back toward the nature of painting.
Justin Mortimer is a prime example of the manipulation of the photographic image in relation to painting. Mortimer continues his painterly practice of sourcing imagery from the internet, and constructing collages from varying images as a starting point for his paintings. The images that Mortimer finds intriguing are sifted and juxtaposed with often disparate elements to create a subverted narrative journey. The artist then begins his painting process – redacting elements of the collage – as Antonioni described his own work, like digging – Mortimer’s relationship to photography is akin to the archaeological.
Hynek Martinec creates hyper-real paintings from photographic sources and plays with the archetypes of the devotional picture and vanitas. The works are at once traditional in terms of practice, but become ‘contemporised photorealism’. The artist’s painting juxtaposes traditional motifs found in vanitas paintings with contemporary techniques creating a temporal aspect to the works. Martinec forms a dialectic concerning the reversion of photography that relates to its current painterly status.
Jonathan Wateridge constructs photo-realist works from fabricated events. Like Mortimer the artist creates a fiction, but by building sets in his studio, blurring the boundaries between painting and photography, Wateridge crafts ‘non-events’ where the artist employs a minimum of expression; causing his work to ‘appear’ photo-realist, while at the same time possessing an unreal painterly quality merely lacking the subjective expression of the artist. In Wateridge’s painting the relationship between photographic image, painting, and photorealism becomes a nonlinear system. In the artist’s work these definitions begin to merge and the linear and temporal painterly process is subverted where Wateridge’s resulting images defies categorisation.
Artists: Hannah Brown, Mark Fairnington, Hynek Martinec, Justin Mortimer, Issa Salliander, Jonathan Wateridge, Uwe Wittwer, Clare Woods.
Words: Paul Black. Photo: Paul Black © 2015
Blow Up: Painting, Photography And Reality – Parafin Gallery – until 22 August 2015