LondonChris Rivers: Odyssey
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The pictures are divided into two subsidiary themes: ‘Angels are Astronauts’ and ‘Sleeping Fairies and Savage Unicorns’. There are also some closely-related, supporting works.
Each ‘Angels are Astronauts’ picture references a particular planet of the solar system, as well as the Sun. The scenes are swirling vortices of turbid colour, allusive to the popularly- perceived characteristics of each subject: for example, Mars, Jupiter and the Sun are hot- hued, Earth watery and Mercury darkly fluid. Small figures in spacesuits tumble through vaporous skeins and veils of paint. These are interstellar landscapes, fantasy worlds, which read as surreal collisions between the sci-fi images of Kubrick’s ‘2001 A Space Odyssey’ and Monet’s lily ponds.
‘Sleeping Fairies and Savage Unicorns’ takes us into a terrestrial world of pastoral reverie. The focus is on landscape and its abstractions. Rivers’ expressive manipulation of oil paint makes turbulent, shifting panoramas. Cursive brush marks and graphic scribblings describe succulent vegetal forms and half-seen fragments of land, sea and sky. This is where you may well see mythical creatures, conjured from fevered dreams.
These paintings are romantic. They describe euphoric states. The title of the exhibition, ‘Odyssey’, directly refers to a long journey, where perceptions are challenged and consciousness altered. Rivers’ practice reflects and underlines this: his representations and surfaces are fractured and break from illusion to abstraction at a glance. These paintings posit a world of multiple possibilities, where realities are made and remade. At some point the tiny astronaut at the centre of this elemental maelstrom, has to ask, in the light of an apparently never-ending quest, “are we there yet?” and perhaps “what do we do now?”
Courtesy of the artist and Pontone Gallery