Art review: Richard Patterson, Timothy Taylor Gallery, London
Zoe Pilger is an art critic for The Independent and winner of the 2011 Frieze International Writers Prize. Her first novel, Eat My Heart Out, will be published by Serpent's Tail in February 2014. She is also researching a PhD at Goldsmiths, University of London, on the subject of romantic love and sadomasochism in the work of contemporary female artists. She has appeared on BBC's The Review Show and Sky News
Monday 13 May 2013
This survey of YBA Richard Patterson’s career so far is bold, sensuous, and feels fresh rather than old hat recycled from the Freeze/Sensation years.
Patterson is a painter. He shares some of his subject matter with, say, the Chapman Brothers – toy figures, pornography, cartoons – but manages to endow it with a sense of life, rather than death.
Your Own Personal Jesus (1995/2011) is a large, intensely coloured painting. A toy figurine on a motorcycle speeds towards the viewer out of an abstract background. The figure himself is daubed in paint; his face is swathed in an impasto red that looks like a mask and obscures all his features. His chest is marked with a yellow cross.
Named after the Depeche Mode song, the work is testament to Patterson’s dazzling painterly skill and compositional power. While many of the YBA generation have churned out nihilistic bric-à-brac and snidely humorous kitsch, these paintings are alive.
Patterson, 49, who was born in Leatherhead, Surrey, but now lives in Dallas, Texas, participated in both Freeze (1988) and Sensation (1997). He graduated from Goldsmiths in 1986.
It is technical brilliance that distinguishes him from some of his peers, who have been viewed with suspicion by the general public and critics for their high-engrossing conceptualism, which appears to require minimal artistic input.
By contrast, works such as Road Agent (2005) are spectacular for their combination of photo-realist painting and abstraction – what Patterson calls “hyperabstraction.”
A figurine has been attacked with paint to the point of annihilating the contours of its body. The paint stands up in thick whips and complex, rippling folds. The background is a tequila sunrise orange that darkens towards the bottom into black. It is this ominousness that lends the works their drama.
Patterson’s process is pain-staking; he paints from photographs, but also uses collage and acetate to create a layering of effects.
The level of care is evident in Hoxton (2000), which is muted in colour and somehow evokes the fragile surface of porcelain in paint, and Christina With Green Necklace (2000), which is obviously indebted to Richter.
Tragically, four of Patterson’s paintings were destroyed in the 2004 Momart fire, including Motocrosser II (1995), which has been remade and renamed as Your Personal Jesus. He has said that the new version is different, perhaps better; it was impossible to truly recreate the original.
The painting is one of many stand-out works here.
Potter's attempt to create an Essex Taj Mahal was a lovely treattv
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Games of Thrones actor Lena Headey makes emotional promise to her unborn daughter
- 2 Isis burns woman alive for refusing to engage in 'extreme' sex act, UN says
- 3 Puerto Rico, island of lost dreams: People are leaving the debt-hit territory in droves as near neighbour Cuba's star rises
- 4 Female Muay Thai champion hustles coaches to give them a beating
- 5 16-year-old girl beaten and burned alive by lynch mob in Rio Bravo, Guatemala
Eurovision 2015: Graham Norton returns with another cutting commentary - his best lines
Eurovision 2015: The best moments from Australia's random entry to Lithuania's gay kiss
Clarkson, Hammond and May Live: Top Gear trio returns with a blend of fireworks, AC/DC and 'automotive pornography'
Eurovision 2015 winner: Sweden beats Russia and Italy to take the title from Conchita Wurst
Eurovision 2015: Estonia seemingly enters Louis Tomlinson from One Direction
As a white man, I'm surprised more women aren't tweeting the hashtag #KillAllWhiteMen
Scotland may have to leave the EU even if it votes to stay in, David Cameron confirms
Report finds that Britain's wages are the most unequal in Europe
The day that Britain resigned as a global power
Almost a third of school pupils believe 'Muslims are taking over our country', study claims
SNP fury as HS2 finds 'no business case' for taking fast train service to Scotland