Laurence Wood: Choice Emblems at Lacey Contemporary Gallery
Laurence Wood’s new exhibition, Choice Emblems at the Lacey Contemporary Gallery, might initially be viewed as simply cheerful and bright, with suggestions of textile design and printmaking. Sumptuous and gorgeous, the paintings are a rich palette, a smorgasbord of textures, colours, symbols and motifs beautifully and intriguingly arranged. Also complex in terms of meaning and form, they combine abstraction, expressionism, naturalism, and surrealism. Mostly acrylics with paper collage elements constructed in layers, the pieces are figuratively emblematic, emphasising colour as bold statements. Flat planes combine with structural illusion, emotion connects with representation, and spontaneity evolves from art history.
A collage with a large rooster head and hens, Coop merges expressionism with naturalism. According to Wood, hens and roosters are spiritually symbolic in various cultures and are classic images in allegorical literature, “yet now they are simultaneously the most ordinary of animals”. The coop is meant to contain, but here it is fragmented, echoing the instability of today’s world. When the Sun Comes Out displays a wandering Elizabethan minstrel: “It celebrates the power of music to uplift and transform the human spirit, across the centuries.”
A beautiful tropical scene with large splashes of red in the foreground, Woman with a Golden Beach Towel typically features figures taken from classical myth, literature and painting and are “…like a sharp image in a dream. Totally ‘real and clear’ in the dream state, but puzzling and ambiguous on waking…”
Ornamental Pool of Paper Fish and Ornamental Pool of Yin Yang Tears, created from video, are inspired by Chinese creation stories, where Wood “imagined an artist’s tears becoming turbulent fish in a coloured pond”. The egret and carp have huge symbolism in Asia. The painting signifies “…that our existence fluctuates between stability and instability, action and inaction, happiness and pain”.
The poignant My Little Pony Waiting for Her Rider to Return by Two Towers is about 9/11 (“…and all the children that lost parents that day”), inspired by the artist’s daughter’s Lego blocks and toy horses. Wood speaks of how strange it is to be playing with loved ones one moment, and then be ” thrust into contemplating the worst possible situations”. An expressionist work with strong surrealist overtones, this painting juxtaposes the innocence of children’s toys with the ominous presence of doom in the figures of the six aeroplanes in the foreground.
Visually enticing and thought-provoking, Choice Emblems is a compelling, engaging exhibition.
Laurence Wood: Choice Emblems is at Lacey Contemporary Gallery from 24th August until 10th September 2016, for further information visit here.
For further information about Laurence Wood visit here.