Ronald Feldman Gallery will exhibit a series of figurative paintings by the Australian artist, Cameron Hayes, for his fourth exhibition at the gallery. The paintings evoke the phantasmagoric worlds of Bruegel, but his scenes address the contemporary world. The paintings, some as large as 6’ x 8’, are visually complex, depicting groups of manic figures in absurd scenarios. Hayes’ vision of the human condition is comic and bleak, yet laced with poignance. The detailed paintings reward a close reading.
Join Cameron who will be in New York to attend the exhibition reception.
Ronald Feldman Gallery
31 Mercer Street , New York
Exhibition reception: Saturday 6th January 2018, 6 – 8 pm
Image: Martina Navratilova versus Chris Evert Lloyd
Oil on linen, 194 x 254 cm
Martina Navratilova’s dad left her family when she was three and committed suicide when she was eight. Her first coach was her stepfather. She grew up in communist Prague where even if you had a father he was horribly emasculated by the government system. In her mid teens, Navratilova took her complicated psychology to the women’s tennis tour of the late ’70s where players were given mops and aprons for winning tournaments.
Chris Evert’s dad was a tennis coach. As the women’s tennis tour grew, it became clear that women playing for money and fame could not compete against an opponent playing for her father’s love.
Time does not beget wisdom. During the Crimean War the Kerch Museum housed one of the world’s best collections of ancient artefacts. The soldiers of the Russian, Turkish, English and French armies did not wait until the battle was over to loot and destroy the contents of the museum. The battlefield became littered with stolen and abandoned priceless ancient vases, statue rubble, marble arms and legs, historic maps, public records and fragile shields and delicate spears.
The average age of a general in the Crimean war was 77. It was the last war in which inexperienced old Englishmen without military talent or intelligence could buy control of an army of young men. Generals directed a battle from a safe distance and insisted on living a civilised lifestyle despite being on a battlefield. They drank and washed from the top of every stream whereas the young soldiers got Cholera and Typhoid from drinking water from the bottom of the stream. The young men were forever soiling their pants and coughing up phlegm. They became deaf from the close range of the canons, and crippled by the activity of battle, appalling sleeping conditions and worst medical services than the older generals.
The old men were relaxed and invigorated by battle, comforted with the knowledge that in war how old you are is measured not by how far you are from birth but by how close you are to death. So in this environment all the young soldiers were in fact much older than they.
During the looting of the Kerch Museum babies traded with ancient coins, and many of the local children have loaded themselves with looted Hellenistic Period coins. They are finding that despite their wealth they are being ignored at the antique auctions, turned away from the all-you-can-eats and the slot machines merely fire back their coins quite hard and at shin level height. Most tragically their money will not buy them the medical attention, which is reserved only for the old generals.
Some old generals have tied strings of babies around the vegetable gardens to protect them from bombs and erected baby scarecrows. Other generals have tied babies to the front of their horses like fluffy dice. A bomb has landed and exploded in the local fortune teller’s shop, sending thousands of fortunes flying into the air. They are chased by giddy old men through the battlefield and across minefields, while a palm reader has set up shop to service distraught wives who collect blown-off hands and arms in search of information about their husbands.
This is about a taxi ride in Mexico. The driver speeds and swerves in the chaotic streets, a contrast to the careful and calm way he has cut the outlines of the porno images he has pasted on his steering wheel and dashboard. Le Merced, the world’s largest market, has the world’s largest porn section. Porn is so abundant that the merchants use it to wrap their sales. Porn litters the entire area. When you look down, you realize you are walking in a sea of erections and shiny vaginas.
Behind the porn section is a “park” where old prostitutes lean against trees, which have been fenced off to stop people from leaning against them. From behind the trees emerge pimps with vicious dogs on a chain.
On the right is Garibaldi Plaza where all the Mariachis wait to be picked for a party on Friday or Saturday evening. Couples drive up to be serenaded, and frantic hosts go to audition Mariachi bands. Most Mariachis go to Garibaldi Plaza to pretend to have a gig or to try to get in on someone else’s gig. They pose, prance, show off their outfits and generally do nothing to make it look like something.
On his birthday Endora gave Darrin a magic mirror which the owner can use to swap lives with anyone he captures in it. When Aunt Clara delivers the mirror she crashes the van and the mirror shatters into thousands of pieces and so everyone in the neighbourhood can swap lives with somebody else with unsatisfying consequences.
Darrin is sick of his life in the suburbs and thinks to himself he is possibly sick of his wife Sam as well. He wishes he could have been a football star instead of being stuck in this life. However, he can not identify any other life which he is certain is a better life than his own; and equally difficult to face is the prospect of abandoning his own unique potentials and “special-ness”. He is doubly thwarted by his own doing, as the successful advertising slogans thought up by himself for the company he works for, McMahon and Tate, have made it more difficult for him to identify a suitable life swap by making everybody feel fat, inadequate, and boring with bad skin.
After many attempts Darrin decides the best way to use his magic mirror is to lean it against his house and run circles around it thus producing thousands of Darrins younger than he is in the present and having the opportunities to improve his own past rather than take another life he is unfamiliar with. In this way Darrin can explore all the possible life choices he didn’t take.
However, this plan is discarded as he becomes obsessed with finding the adult women which were once the young girls he had crushes on before he reached puberty, and uses most of his younger self Darrins for this purpose. He is also desperate to have his younger Darrins re-enact episodes of his childhood where he was personally cruel or allowed cruelty to go unchallenged and victims to go unhelped. Using McMahon and Tate billboards Darrin paints the scenes from his childhood he wants corrected. One important victim of his childhood was a girl with a bowel disorder called Carty Farty, who used to get her clothes from the lost property box and as a child Darrin gave her a grubby old tennis ball for a birthday present as a joke.