This group of paintings on canvas – fragments collaged together on stretched canvases or loosely strung on washing lines – continues Blom’s experiments with a new pictorial language. In the artist’s words:
There is a lot of frenzied figuration going on in the studio. For the time being, this is giving me an immense sense of freedom, bordering on abandon. The space is populated with dragon-rat-bird-dog-humanoid mutations, nonsensical lighthearted nightmarish bullshit. It is quite liberating, and I’m trying to embrace and mine this moment for all it is worth, instead of killing it with pre-emptive critical judgment. This is never entirely possible, but you can find ways to trick yourself for short periods of time. As for the modernism shtick, it is still something I haven’t been able to shake off. Perhaps I can claw my way out, one lovingly copied reference at a time.
What do you do when idealisms and ambitions fall away? Nothing. You just sit back and watch the empty spaces fill up with new tenants. Anyway, in this house there has only ever been one constant, one permanent resident: an endless infatuation and frustration with painting and mark-making – a stubborn, impatient desire to will paint into a compelling composition or expression of some sort. And guaranteed, the result is never quite satisfying enough, no matter how cunning your strategies. Because (surprise!) the game is rigged, and it always has been. It comes with a built-in fail-safe that ensures its continued survival. Consider the preposterousness of trying to bring something to life on a flat surface with a couple of pigments and some crude utensils. Painters pray for miracles, and settle for mirrors. But it doesn’t stop them from praying, because this is the religion of Painting, with its ever-dangling, shapeshifting carrot. Maybe the only unmovable ambition I have ever had is the chasing of this elusive vegetable. No matter what direction the work takes, or how much I rebel against whatever I painted yesterday, it seems I can always centre myself around this bit of bad code – a source of inexhaustible energy, in this heaven – or hell – of oil on canvas.
In a recent article highlighting Blom’s collaborative music project, The Bad Reviews, co-founder Sean O’Toole describes this creative turn with the following observation:
As a painter Blom is best understood as a pathologist. His paintings, which have explored various forms of abstraction, are autopsies of the dead body of European modernism. Recently he has started making figure-based paintings. These Frankenstein pictures are composites of works by famous dead painters. In a way, Blom’s move from bedroom electronics, an abstract and immersive form, to narrative-based rock ‘n’ roll predicted this shift.
New Paintings is the artist’s first showing in the Johannesburg gallery since 2013, and follows his solo presentation at the 2018 Joburg Art Fair.