Gallery Suzanne Tarasieve is pleased to present Neal Fox's third solo exhibition. Borrowing its title from a 1938 American crime film (directed by Michael Curtiz), Angels with Dirty Faces leverages the power of Indian ink and paper to resurrect anthological figures of counter culture (music, visual arts and literature).
In the midst of these iconic and modern figures, resonates the voice of his grandfather, a WWII British pilot (involved in the bombing raids of Germany) who went on to write pulp novels , host chat shows and pub crawl in Soho, with the likes of Francis Bacon. Although Neal Fox barely knew him, the legacy of his creativity and playfulness lies behind his brush-stroked narratives.
The work of Neal Fox breaks away from conceptual art forms and is dedicated to ink drawings and contemporary culture. With this exhibition, the artist summons iconic figures, from Arthur Rimbaud to David Bowie, which much like angels or archangels, take on the role of spiritual guardians and messengers.
By reeling into his drawings known and powerful poetic forces, belonging to different time periods, the intention of Neal Fox is to engage them in existential conversations and draw parallels between art movements and authors. La Décadanse (2017) for example portrays Rimbaud as an archangel looking over the shoulder of Jane Birkin and Serge Gainsbourg (the latter often referred to the young poet in his effort to write songs). In The Siesta (2017), the same poet indulges in a semi-conscious nap with Vincent van Gogh. In unison, they contemplate nature, while lying on their back and recompose Des glaneuses (1857) by Jean-François Millet, with lonely and hallucinated eyes.
The theatre of war also plays a major part in the works of Neal Fox. By using its settings and characters, Fox reminds the viewer that major conflicts create the grounds for lasting ruptures and creative innovations. In Lost in Time (2017), Fox captures David Bowie watching Marlene Dietrich from the window of a tram, in the Weimar Republic of his imagination . Last of the Troubadours (2017) pictures Bob Dylan as an enemy of Christian faith, against the 13th century background of the Albigensian crusade.
Out of all the ingredients thrown into Neal Fox’s cultural blender, modern poets and their sense of vision are quintessential. In chronological order stand writers such as Rimbaud and Baudelaire who pioneered the use of narcotics and alcohol for inspiration. They are followed by the Beat Generation (Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac for example), who continued on this road, with free form verses, colloquial language and an imagery drawn from contemporary culture.
Neal Fox is also the co-founder of the acclaimed graphic art periodical, LE GUN, and a member of the LE GUN art collective (exhibited in 2011 in the gallery’s second space, LOFT19). His illustrations have featured regularly in The Guardian and the Times newspapers.