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Daniel Templeman, Katrina Dobbs, Ben Frost
The paintings of Ben Frost and the computer collaborations of Daniel Templeman and Katrina Dobbs are seductive. The viewer is enticed by the saturation of colour, the high gloss, the pure entertainment value. The images are clean, specious and ready to be consumed. Like the computer game in the centre of the room, in this exhibition the viewer enters a synthetic world where the game is all important. One plays the art, becomes involved in its mechanisms and searches for the energy pills, through the projection of artificial light. Rather than ignoring fashion the work aspires to it. Cloud Nine could be seen either as breaking through banality and entertainment or as being banality and entertainment.
Frost's paintings are direct, frontal. His images are selected not so much from popular culture as from the stereotypes of popular culture. They are de-contextualised, mutilated and re-formed. There are family picnics where people play cricket, or scenes of people walking to school through fantasy landscapes, all of them headless. Other works are abstractions, bold and beautiful. The paintings are flat, solid and become objects in their own right. Perhaps the most memorable image is that of the Spice Girls naked. People feel the need to label them, to figure out which Spice is which Spice. The bodies are flat and without verisimilitude, and they give viewers finally what they want, what they really really want.
In contrast, the computer prints of Daniel Templeman and Katrina Dobbs seem comparatively subtle. The inks are rich and 'residue-like' and the images fragmented and unresolvable as the super-saturation of the printing process dissolves them into the serial fuzz of (re)production. Their forms change with the viewer's focus. Every new viewing allows new information, often at the expense of the old. There is always more complexity; every time the gaze traverses the visual field there is more detail to be correlated and defined.
The work in the show is informed by photography; it arises as a condition of it. The images quote from secondary sources. Their work is copies of copies. The artists need not produce so much as replace, rolling at the level of cloud nine in a state of artificial bliss. Frost works from appropriated images, paintings with mis-registrations and dis-locations. The computer work of Templeman and Dobbs processes the humanistic splats and drips of painting through binary language: gesture is negated by 0/1 and becomes formula. The work arises from its technological reproduction. The images demand attention, evoke humour and noise. Their gloss is total. It is within this synthetic depth that their art exists. A combination of retro-styling and postmodern cool make this a very watchable exhibition.