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Indepth Arts News:

"Gastrophoria: Charlotte Brisland, Gary McDonald, Janice McNab, Victoria Morton, Neal Rock"
2006-01-18 until 2006-03-17
Pump House Gallery
London, , UK United Kingdom

Food has long provided painters with a wealth of subject matter. The 17th Century Dutch masters depicted lavish spreads of game and fish for allegorical and symbolic purposes whilst for Chardin and Cezanne arrangements of fruit proved the ideal model for their investigations into perspective and form. When Goya and Soutine elected to paint slabs of raw meat they did so with an expressionistic gusto that asserted the materiality of paint and served as a poignant reminder of human corporeality. In the late 1950s and 1960s the American Pop Artists James Rosenquist and Wayne Thiebaud acknowledged the excesses of post-war production and consumption with their deadpan images of junk food and confectionary.

Gastrophoria is a group exhibition that reveals an obsession for paint's tactile, synaesthetic and metaphorical qualities in relation to food as demonstrated here by a selection of contemporary artists who take a greedy, quasi-culinary pleasure in working with paint. Whether abstract or representational, these works generate the desire to touch, taste and ingest the inedible.

In his wall-based works, Neal Rock uses a surfeit of pigment infused silicone in the manner of a pātissier - piping the mixture on like sticky sweet icing. With a candy box palette of colours that are fondant one moment and putrid the next his resulting gelatinous masses attract and repulse in equal measure. Charlotte Brisland's visceral smears of impasto provoke similarly ambiguous responses by exploring the boundaries between ugliness and beauty. Her abstract compositions hint at recognisable forms that have been liquefied, pushed and distorted through a process of synthetic digestion.

Janice McNab chooses the empty plastic trays of chocolate boxes as her subject. Rendered in rich creamy browns, these scaled-up realist paintings conjure a lascivious and sublime landscape in a world of over-indulgence. Gary McDonald's paintings create a sense of nostalgia, particularly in his works of Tunnocks Tea Cakes, which fuse elements of Pop Art with an English sensibility. Victoria Morton takes pleasure in expressionistic brushwork and vivid colour fusing everyday life with the subconscious. Morton's abstract realist painting Mouldy Bananas, Two Lemons and a Kiwi Fruit explores the breakdown of pictorial convention, while asserting the materiality and seductive potential of the medium.

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