Ana Cristea Gallery is pleased to present “Salad Days” British artist Grant Foster’s first solo exhibition at the gallery.
Foster’s work appears to offer nostalgic representations of pastoral settings and British Romantic painting; however, one of these is not like the others. The parade of fanciful, youth-filled canvases is brought into an eerie focus when viewed alongside the show’s single sculpture, a wax cast portraying the visage of Aubrey de Gray. The sunken eyes and lengthy beard of the most recognizable face in biomedical gerontology contrast sharply against the ruddy, cherub-like subjects of Foster’s paintings. This overt incongruence is the first of several indicators that something is not as it seems.
The works were created using a traditional method of distemper painting. The Latin root of the word distemper means “to upset the proper balance,” signifying a disorder or disturbance, particularly of a political or social nature. Foster utilizes this etymological elasticity as a starting point from which to explore the role that images play in defining and establishing shared value systems, social norms and ideals.
The children and adolescents populating the canvases are drafted from a range of source materials: children’s books, illustrated forms of advertising and early 20th Century Russian propaganda posters. This stock imagery interrogates the notion of tradition as a form of cultural persuasion. We encounter a youth stepping on the back of a faceless, subservient man, a girl with her features covered over by bright red fruit, and another with several distinct physiognomies composing a single face. Hidden beneath the totems of so-called civilized culture, we find the barbaric truths of feudalism, serfdom, colonialism and imperialism.
Historically, culturally sanctioned imagery maintained the balance and order that rested on dominance over “the other.” In looking back, this imagery takes on the role of interlocutor in our ongoing dialogue with the past. It offers up a standard of comparison, so we might plot our present coordinates and begin to refine the truths that we tell ourselves. However, as we trawl through thousands of images daily, ever fixated on the next swipe, this negotiation of social norms and ideals is evolving rapidly. With the proliferation of the image, we witness the democratization of image making. We see a world fractured and pluralistic, and the site of cultural domination is no longer clear. Foster’s body of characters function as a disembodied and schizophrenic caricature of this on-going negotiation between moral values and the trappings of contemporaneity.
Grant Foster (b. 1982, Worthing) lives and works in London. He received a MA in Painting at the Royal College of Art in 2012. Foster received the Leverhulme Bursary in 2010 and was a prizewinner at John Moores 25 in 2008. In 2013 his work was part of Bloomberg New Contemporaries at the ICA in London and at Spike Island, Bristol. His recent exhibitions include Holy Island, Chandelier Projects, London (2014); The Walnut Tree, Chinashop, Oxford (2013), Figuratively Speaking (curated by Marcelle Joseph), Heike Moras Art, London (2015); The Threadneedle Prize 2014: Figurative Art Today (Curated by Sacha Craddock), Mall Galleries, London (2014); Rx for Viewing (with Jesse Wine), Ana Cristea Gallery, New York (2014); East London Painting Prize, Strand House, London (2014).
For additional information, please contact Ana Cristea Gallery by phone at (212) 904-1100 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. The gallery is located at 521 West 26th Street between 10th and 11th Avenues and is open from Tuesday through Saturday from 11am to 6pm.
1 - Also known as experimental gerontology and life extension, biomedical gerontology is a sub-discipline of biogerontology that endeavors to slow, prevent, and even reverse aging. De Grey’s goal is to prevent all deaths related to the process of aging.