John Hurrell – 27 September, 2012
There is a nice quality about these enigmatic ‘tragic' images. Though lugubrious and slightly corny they get richer and more semiotically complex the more time you spend with them.
12 September - 29 September 2012
In this show of about a dozen small intimate paintings (figurative images in acrylic washes bordered with thin wobbly lines of black ink) David Cauchi presents a cartoonist sensibility, a self-effacing, black humour drawn on framed canvases in the style of Glen Baxter or Gahan Wilson.
The best of these images have a humorous self-mockery, mixed in with a heightened ambiguity. No Self Portrait has the artist’s head ‘negated’ with an imposed cross and the word ‘No’ written underneath. That could mean the image is one of any number of possibilities: a poor likeness, of somebody else, stands for self-hatred, of the artist (two negatives making a positive), or anti the ego or any representational imagery at all. ‘Abstract’ as Cauchi’s perhaps perverse exhibition title says.
The Void seems to be a seated Greek goddess holding an urn that has been removed or obliterated, turned into a dark hollow cavern. Is the absent object a symbol for culture? Is the gaping hole (in her chest) a symbol for redundant belief in deities, or if she is human, incinerated love?
And what of Life? A cut throat razor seems to have been fired through the open window on a bolt of lightning and sliced off the unfortunate gentleman’s head. Is such random violence part of Life, or is it more meaningful or determined by something the victim has done?
The blue-shirted man in The Psychiatrist is wearing a (glued on) mask that makes him look like a terrorist. He is not the conventional image of a drawn psychiatrist, being pudgy, beardless and snarling. With the blue shirt he could be a policeman.
Another figure guarding the doorway of Spontaneous Search Party also appears to be hostile, with his sneering expression, tilted head and aggressive v-shaped clawing fingers. The dark Void space behind him seems to be symbolic. If we search that house, what monstrous secrets would we find?
Cauchi’s fablelike paintings invite speculation, and are seemingly preoccupied with the Self and its hidden nature. The Minotaur is usually guarding mazes and virilely active, but in one of Cauchi’s paintings he is in his artist’s attic, pathetically sprawled on the floor, forlornly sucking on a bottle. His girlfriend has left him, her separate bed festooned with drying underwear and socks.
There is a nice quality about these enigmatic ‘tragic’ images. Though lugubrious and slightly corny they get richer and more semiotically complex the more time you spend with them. They are not one-liners.
GRACE BUTLER MEMORIAL FOUNDATION AWARD AT ARA
3 Month Studio Residency for an Artist with an Association with Canterbury
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