13 - February - 13 April 2013
TJ Boulting is pleased to present the first solo show with the gallery of British artist Dale Adcock. All the works in the exhibition are united in that they are mediated by the artists imagination. ‘Ratio’ also explores, and ultimately reconciles, a certain aesthetic dichotomy in the artist’s practice. The main gallery contains monumental and precisely constructed oil paintings, referencing both ancient civilisations and the canon of art history. The second room holds grids of smaller ink and watercolour drawings, that appear to come directly from Adcock’s imagination. At first they do not seem to necessarily relate; the paintings’ scale and precision impress on the viewer; the drawings conversely appear without constraint, revealing a personal release of the artist’s machinations. However it becomes apparent that they are the id and ego of one artist, and are inextricably linked.
‘Validator’, the central oil painting, is an anthropomorphic yet architectural form, situated in a two-dimensional, marine background. It refers to Blake’s depiction of Newton, at the bottom of the sea with a pair of compasses outlining the cosmos, and the ‘ratio’ to which he refers. Here the figure sits solid and symmetrical, atop the compasses. Recalling a devotional statue or museum relic, it functions for Adcock as something close to an artist god, a looming reminder of the constant struggle to find external corroboration. It also brings to mind the polytheism of ancient cultures, the mystic commentary of Byron’s ‘Ozymandias of Egypt’, and in a more contemporary sense the childhood fascination of a Nintendo game character or ‘Zoltar the Magnificent’ in the 80’s film ‘Big’. It is flanked on one side by ‘Tomb’, this time a signpost at a cross-religious crossroads, a Christian symbol-cum-totem pole; aside from the entropically degrading figures it is adorned with various markings referencing Mayans, Aztecs, Egyptians, Greeks, Romans and at the bottom, Moby Dick’s sperm whale. Formally mimicking a Minimalist approach to the depiction of structures in space, echoing Donald Judd’s ‘stacks’ and his ideas voiced in the essay ‘Specific Objects’, between work that was ‘neither painting nor sculpture.’ There is something to be said about Adcock’s forms in these two works are both very three dimensional and two dimensional, depicting solid if not existing, objects, but spatially and metaphorically floating between the two.
The third work in the room, the diptych ‘Double Portrait (Man and Woman)’, adds a figurative, if distorted, element, and a reference this time to the Northern Renaissance. Here he manipulates the two-dimensional forms from Robert Campin’s ‘A Man and a Woman’ from the National Gallery, London. Making line drawings of the paintings’ figures Adcock then mentally distorted them by imagining the drawings folded around a triangular lozenge and then balanced them in an almost impossibly shallow space. The North is also felt through the palette, the grey-blue background which echoes the cold daylight of a Flanders window and the transformation of the figures in a form of ‘grisaille’, the traditional technique where the tonal gradients of grey are used to depict stone carving in painting, such as on the closed doors of Van Eyck’s Ghent Altarpiece. The only human touch which relieves this being the pin in the woman’s headdress.
The drawings in the second room in contrast are freer of intent, and tend to be where his ideas germinate. Trying to complete one a day they are a visual diary of his subconscious meanderings, made in a similar vein to Martin Kippenberger’s ‘Hotel Drawings’. Titled ‘R/V’ (Recto/ Verso) as a series, each work is titled on the reverse individually, but allocated separately to the image on its other side, with sometimes an uncanny unity between the two. Surreal figures float in their own little worlds, with formless faces and back to front bodies, recalling as Rebecca Geldard notes in her accompanying essay ‘the primal human studies of Marlene Dumas, the forensic observations of Albrecht Durer and the expressionistic prints of Kathe Kollwitz.’
Coming to consider the paintings and drawings one notes that the references to ancient civilisations are echoed in the primal caveman appearance of the drawings, images appear in the drawings and reappear woven into the wood grain of a coffin side, What is it that unites or separates them? Is it the ratio to which he refers?
Dale Adcock (born 1980) received a BA from Wimbledon School of Art in 2003 and an MA from Chelsea College of Art of Design in 2005. During his studies he completed a residency at Hochschule Fur Bildene Kunste Braunschweig in 2002. His work has been exhibited in several group shows in London institutions, including the ICA and The Centre For Recent Drawing and as part of The Future Can Wait, he has also shown work internationally at Midway Contemporary Art, Minneapolis, and The Torrance Art Museum, Los Angeles. He currently lives and works in London.