2-24 October 2010
Jo Wilmot is interested in the way shiny newness becomes tarnished, in how fast a longed for item or experience switches from desirable to banal.
We live in a culture of glossy images, objects and items and we are led to believe that the next purchase or cocktail will make us complete. The cycle of mindless consumerism relies on our belief that ‘new’ is always better.
Her paintings explore the way in which we define ourselves through consumption and the easy, empty seductiveness of consumer culture – it’s all about surface, being seen at the ‘right’ places, desirably dressed, looking gorgeous and glossy with gleaming white teeth. But life is messier than films and advertising and however much we pursue this illusion, it inevitably falls short. We all have some memory of the disappointment we felt when we couldn’t open the window in the five star hotel and the sadness when we scuffed our expensive new shoes. That feeling of slight emptiness, claustrophobia and frustration is what she is aiming to achieve in her work.
Although people are not physically in the paintings, their presence is very much felt – the objects and places depicted operate as signifiers – we all possess a stereotypical idea about the individuals who drive Porsches or leave their knickers in a bush. The absence of people gives a sense of stalled narrative, what happened and what’s next?
Wilmot works from photography, both found images and ones she has taken – using mediated images gives a distance and a slight coldness to the work. The paintings are generally flat, with passages of glossy, built-up areas and visceral chunks of crusty paint. The seductiveness of paint and the ‘hand-made’ aesthetic of gestural painting gives a tension between the execution and the subject matter, undermining the desirability of the luxurious object depicted.