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"Simon Marriott: Something Old, Something New"
2002-11-28 until 2002-12-21
UK United Kingdom
What is it about social and political artists of the past that intrigue Marriott so much? His fascination with medieval writers such as Chaucer and Dante, the work of Bruegel, perhaps stems from his understanding of the universality of the human condition. Marriott’s new series is drawn from the 19th Century French satirical artist, Honoré Daumier. A remarkable painter and social commentator, whose impoverished background gave him direct access into the bleak world of the forgotten and the dispossessed – what would be considered today as the ‘under-class’.
Like his contemporary Dickens, Daumier had a gift of expressing character through the grotesque, whereby the personality is communicated by physiognomy and the essence of satire lies in the power to interpret mental folly in terms of physical absurdity.
The Jerwood Prize recently short-listed Marriott for his distinctive draughtsmanship. Here his contemporary take on this master of caricature, is to focus on a series of bronze and clay heads by Daumier, and turn them into vivid paintings. In this body of work; we see fraught faces etched with life. Faces of the past, yet we see them everyday, on street, in the pub and down in the tube.
Marriott understands the importance of social documentation. He looks objectively at modern life and with an appreciation of the great artists of the past he knows the tragedy and comedy that make up everyday life are timeless and immutable.
"Something Old, Something New" attempts to focus on the individual within the crowd, to draw out the humanity and to present the audience with a reflection. This is not a literal mirror but a desire to find a common thread, to empathise and isolate snatches of narrative and present them for appraisal.