Locks Gallery is pleased to present Setting Sons, the debut solo exhibition of British artist Marcus Harvey at the gallery, on view from September 11 through October 24, 2015 with a reception for the artist on Friday, October 2nd from 5:30 to 7:30pm. A new series of paintings on mounted photographs will be accompanied by a new body of collaged sculptures cast in a plaster-like resin.
A graduate of Goldsmiths, Marcus Harvey was included in the generation-defining Young British Artists (“YBA”) exhibits as well as the controversial and acclaimed traveling exhibition Sensation (Royal Academy of Arts, London, 1997; Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin, 1998-99; Brooklyn Museum, New York, 1999-2000) that placed the YBA artists in the international spotlight. In 2007, Harvey co-founded Turps Banana magazine with painter Peter Ashton Jones, a bi-annual UK magazine about painting, by painters. In 2012, they founded the Turps Art School, a London-based related independent studio program for painters.
Harvey’s new work finds itself against a backdrop of historical anxiety about symbolism, identity, and artistic material as he reflects on ideas of national identity and masculinity. Expanding upon the iconoclastic approaches of the YBA’s, the artist’s new work maturely combines irony, humor, and an earnest affection within his fusion of high and low cultural symbols. This pursuit is both personal and historical, motivated in his own words, “Partly to wrest something from the all pervading guilt over colonial misdemeanours and in part to ironise an overly romantic valuation of the past.”
The sculptures, reminiscent of classical Greek heads, art historical reclining nudes and torsos, and ethnographic sculptural trophies, use a conglomerate sensibility akin to the figurative paintings of Renaissance artist Giuseppe Arcimboldo. The objects totemically bound and aggregated to make these cast forms evoke themes of empire, British history and culture, and power structures– including exotic fruits, satirical political masks sourced from joke shops, a British police helmet, meat, trash cans, and dismembered hands proffering cricket balls.
Rather than exploring paintings relationship to or emulation of photography, painting directly on a photographic backdrop in a thick impasto and gestural mode allows Harvey to acknowledge the post-photographic moment of his medium and lets paint embody its most unadulterated physicality. The paintings’ subjects are more subtle meditations on standard gender roles and cultural dynamics. Loaded with a certain romanticism about the traditional artistic manipulation of material, they further play with motifs from British landscape art history and their strong figurative post-war painting tradition.
These new works on view represent his meditations on national identity and an amalgamation of art histories specific to the physical world of objects in a rapidly homogenizing digital era. In this exhibition, history is both perpetrator and victim of Harvey’s gaze, while the subjects he affirms, “accompany me moving forward with a grasp of past culpability, but without losing balance.”
Having exhibited regularly throughout Europe, this is Harvey’s first solo exhibition in the United States in over a decade.