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reviews simon english
simon english: lullAby for mArie-
strAnge, letgo And rAbbit
galerie du jour agnes b., paris
9 novem ber – 12 decem ber
Walking into Simon English’s latest show is – at first glance – like wandering books and television) and pinning it down like a demented butterfly
through a collection of annotated Victoriana. For English’s painted collector in order to assemble a strangely personal depiction of his own
drawings (the works most definitely seem to sit somewhere between the emotions, feelings and memories. There are times at which English feels
two media) are assembled in a manner that is part clutter of photographs like some sort of (post)modern-day Proust.
on a nineteenth-century mantelpiece and part Venn diagram. In each Near the bottom of one of the works is scrawled the following:
one, oval portraits (which include rabbits, fawns, artists, footballers, owls ‘grieving, loss and melancholy is a hard act to follow. Will Pollux (Dougal),
and royalty) cluster together like so many family histories, set into dialogue Marie Antoinette and sex do it? And happiness and twin towning.’ It
with each other both by the ways in which they overlap and by the artist’s captures perfectly the mix of innocence (the reference to The Magic
scrawling annotations and (often sexual) exhortations (‘Let go’, ‘Fuck me Roundabout in the scrawl and, indeed, the ‘lullaby’ of the exhibition title)
now’). But it’s quickly apparent that these are a kind of bizarre, ahistorical and (sexual) experience that lies at the core of this artist’s works. And it
Victoriana – a controlled vomit of references to past, present and future. sits alongside a reference to the utterly English (and much as any writer
In one work, for example, portraits of the unholy trinity of Jesus (Christ), would want to avoid it, it’s practically impossible to describe or discuss
jug-eared footballer Wayne Rooney (his face painted with the Cross of English’s work without commenting on the fact of its, errrr…, Englishness)
St George) and Picasso, each icon executed in a style appropriate to the The Lark Ascending (George Meredith, 1895; Ralph Vaughn Williams,
subject (the lamenting Jesus in heavy chiaroscuro, the brutish Wayne in 1914). That said, as the reference to Louis XVI’s doomed wife and twin-
a manner that resembles a child’s finger-painting and the arrogant Pablo towning suggests, there’s a certain European flavour colouring English’s
in mock aquatint) are set alongside a quotation from Van Morrison’s Ain’t latest works, hinting at a new and ever more intriguing set of couplings and
Nothing You Can Do (1974) and adulation from George Harrison: ‘my sweet copulations to come. Mark Rappolt
Lord I really want to know you, I really want
to see you…’The sense, throughout it all, is
of the artist grabbing at the material that
floats by him in daily life (music from the
radio, images from newspapers, children’s
Marie-Strange, 2007
crayon, ink, watercolour and acrylic on
paper, 250 x 250 cm © the artist. courtesy
galerie du jour agnès b., paris
127 Artreview
FEB_REVIEWS.indd 127 7/1/08 14:50:56
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