'Young British Artist' rakes Momart's ashes

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Just as Jake and Dinos Chapman, the former Turner Prize nominees, are working on recreating a new - if modified - version of their monumental sculpture Hell, Richard Patterson, 42, has returned to a giant series of paintings from the mid-90s known as Culture Stations. Four of his paintings, including three of the collage-based Culture Station works, all owned by the collector Charles Saatchi, were lost in the fire that swept through the Momart warehouse in May last year. Each painting took up to five months to complete.

"After the initial loss and getting over that, this is a good moment to think about them again, " Patterson said. "I had wanted to return to them for a while,

The new work in the series, Back at the Dealership Culture Station No. 5, will be unveiled to the public on Saturday as part of a new month-long show at the Timothy Taylor gallery in London entitled "Paintings from Dallas", referring to the city where Patterson now lives with his American wife.

And although only one Culture Station is included in the new exhibition, he said: "There will be more of them. They were quite major works that if I was to do a big museum show at some point, would represent an important part of my early career.

"Originally I wanted to literally remake some of them but then that seemed crazy. End to end, that's two whole years' work [from 1995 and 1996]."

Instead he has settled for creating new work in the same sequence and with the same title, taking similar inspiration from advertising, television and the internet.

But whereas his work of a decade ago involved painstakingly building up collage layers, with additional painting, advances in computers mean he can now work faster.

Patterson, like Damien Hirst, Gary Hume, Sarah Lucas and Fiona Rae, attended Goldsmiths College of Art in London and was in the enormously influential show, "Freeze", organised by Hirst.

But it was "Sensation" at the Royal Academy in 1997, that brought these artists to mainstream public attention. A selection of the work owned by Charles Saatchi, it featured many of the original "Freeze" stars.

Patterson said: "From 1993 to 1996 was a particularly exciting period in London and there was a tremendous amount of openness among artists working in London. My peer group were aware of each other but no one knew how many other people were making interesting work. You could sense it but no one had done 'Sensation' yet.

"The meaning of the work was locked up in that sense of possibility. It's hard to remember when you look back historically what the mood was like at the time, the optimism. You can see it in the music as well such as Blur - real optimism mixed up with slight cynicism. It was very knowing."

He had already moved to America when the fire broke out in the Momart warehouse, destroying hundreds of works including contemporary classics by Tracey Emin, Hirst and the Chapman brothers as well as key pieces by important older artists such as Patrick Heron.

"Now I'm really sad about it because ultimately they're just irreplaceable," said Patterson. "Artworks have an independent life and they're continually reassessed. What seemed profound and important in 1995 I might be embarrassed to see now. But maybe in five years' time they might seem good again. But they were the very best I could do at the time."

Many of the artists and owners of the destroyed works are due in court next year in a joint action against Momart. All parties are due to meet in December to decide on procedure for the claim which could cost the warehouse millions.