The Depot and 48HOURS presents: Instructional Objects under the Silver Moonlight Russell Maurice
Opening Friday 7th March, 6-9pm Then Saturday 8th & Sunday 9th ONLY, 12-6pm The Depot 38 Upper Clapton Road, London, E5 8BQ
As if an oracular folk tale had fallen off its long-told path, engulfed by a tsunami that swallowed up both its maidens and men, this exhibition leaves only the peculiar detritus of a previous life: a post-apocalyptic landscape lit by the shimmering (and black-eyed) face of the moon. Under its glow, matter that once would have been seen to have no mind awakens. And as Alchemy would predict, an after-life begins.
Emerging from Romanticism, of natural phenomena, Maurice’s more recent work on view in this solo exhibition at the Depot, mischievously borrows from histories of magic, mythology, spiritualism and the occult. Hijacking the mythological meaning of infusing the lifeless with life. He reanimates the conventionally two-dimensional cartoon strip, extracting characters from its sanitised white pages and solidifying them within the physical space of
The exhibition seems to ask: when does a cartoon stop being a cartoon? As flat surfaces become more sculptural with Maurice’s use of found fabrics, and lines that were once crisp become painterly, the buoyant boundaries of Comic Abstraction, to which the work belongs, spring further from the comic book frame. Like certain other practitioners of this genre working in three-dimensional forms, including Lucas Dillon and Murray O’Grady, Maurice questions the very medium and status of cartoon as a sub-art.
Perhaps satirically, then, he uses ragged materials, old bed sheets and linen offcuts rather than the clean canvases traditionally favoured for the creation of “high” art: more hobo than highbrow, for which the pilgrim’s bindle will vouch. But what might seem like a slippery slope towards Pop art, is in fact a continuation of the alchemical and pan-psychic theme of birth, death and rebirth that preoccupies Maurice’s current art practice. The Comic, though, retains some tongue in cheek.
Like the ridiculousness of the Futurist running sausage dog by Giacomo Balla, whose countless limbs “snap-catch” the little creature in mid-motion, Maurice’s Infinity Dog presents a splayed array of heads as a smear frame would in cartoon imagery, while interlacing occult symbolism into his own pictorial vernacular of cartoon animation: the interwoven body of the dog appropriates the infinity sigil that summons life cycles as in the Emerald Text of Alchemy.
And if all that alchemy seems too esoteric, it doesn’t really matter because, after all, when the sun rises everything returns to normal.
In association with Galleries Goldstein 48HOURS is a series of weekend long shows curated by Suzannah Pettigrew.