Barry Reigate | Happiness

14 March - 20 April 2008

Private View: Thursday 13 March 2008, 7 - 9 pm


Closed During Easter Holidays: 21.3.08 - 24.3.08

Paradise Row is proud to present Barry Reigate's first major London solo show.  Comprising of paintings, sculptures and drawings, the exhibition presents a riotous, chaotic, carnivalesque universe in which depraved cartoonish creatures, hyper-violent and clearly on heat, cavort, playing malevolently with their pudenda as well as with signs, forms and references.
 
In the paintings inhabitants from the studios of Disney and Warner Brothers collide in a painterly netherworld that recalls the jackdaw style of Basquiat. We are treated to visions such as that of the head of a decapitated Bambi skewered on the ever-elongating nose of Pinocchio in Telling Lies, and of the grinning beauty of Penelope Pew in Daddies New Girlfriend Stinks.

Meanwhile in the sculptural arena, Reigate presents two, large, human-sized zombie-rabbit-like forms, that, possibly, mock Jeff Koon's insidiously pristine, stainless steel Rabbit. Made of Jesmonite and coated with thick, disfiguring black gloss, the figures are distinguished by being pierced by neon tubes. I'm not a Follower, I'm a Leader, lying on its back, appears to sport the neon tube as penis, another, Triumph in the Face of Adversity, has a neon emerging from its anus whilst a third figure, Snatching Defeat From the Jaws of Victory, deviates from the rabbit theme, being a mouse, stands proudly, like a kind of neo-Cyclops, pierced right through its sweet head with the beam of light. Transfixed with agony or joy? Here the distinction between pain and pleasure is left deliciously ambiguous, titillating for all those who hover nervously on the border between sadism and masochism… As it says, somewhere or other in the Bible "And lo the light shone in the darkness and the darkness did not comprehend it"… Those unconcerned with such esoteric nuances will be pleased to note that the sculptures also function simply as lovely lamps… as long as you… turn them on.

In a highly moving subtext, intelligible only with knowledge of the highly private, autobiographical facts that I am about to tell you, the works mainline straight into the personal history of the artist. As a child Reigate was largely taught to draw by his identically named father, Barry James Reigate, imprisoned, at the time, in Wandsworth Prison, who used to send Barry Jr. postcards dotted with the figures of Tom and Jerry, Mickey Mouse and so on. From an early age, then, Reigate (Jr.), associated art and creativity with escape, an association Reigate has sought to deepen in his adult years. Accordingly all these works vividly demonstrate Reigate's commitment to stupidity and fun as the primary impulse and final purpose of art making but also attempt to serve as puerile metaphors for the dynamics of power within human societies.