CAN YOU FEEL IT?
MAY 12 - JUNE 23
OPENING MAY 11
Now some of you who might wonder. Who is Jack, and what is it that Jack does? Jack is the one who gives you the power to jack your body! Jack is the one who gives you the power to do the snake! Jack is the one who gives you the key to the wiggly world! Jack is the one who learns you how to walk your body! Jack is the one that can bring nations and nations of all Jackers together under one house!
British artist Joe Cheetham employs gestural mark making, spray painting and an exotic colour palate often in the production of abstract and figurative paintings on canvas that draw heavily on a range of influences from rave flyers, club culture, cartoons, graffiti, pop, and art history.
In Can You Feel It? the artist has eschews the formal presentation of painting on stretched canvas , producing instead a large scale wall mural - an approach to painting that is more readily associated within the context of the subway, the youth centre, or the night club.
Lifesized caricatured figures of gurning revellers have been made from cutout painted canvas which Cheetham has collaged and pasted directly on the wall to form a running frieze around the gallery walls.
These comedic ravers, replete with party detritus and dress, dance and march arm in arm towards a future promised land, warmed by a benign acid smiley sun. The tongue-in-cheek bravado of these figures with their tacky trompe l’oeil quips give an impression of an over gregarious mis en -scene that holds a tangible sense of capriccio*.
The promise of the night meets the hedonism of the dancefloor and the inevitable desolation of the morning after. Dribbling mouths, printed textiles, popped champagne corks, pills, stray hairs, nipples and blood shot eyes are executed by Cheetham with painted and drawn exuberance.
Cheetham’s comedic figures have a distinctly British visual vernacular, resembling the crass cartooning of Viz Magazine but merged with the tacky positivity of club culture. Cheetham use of the gestural rhythm of spray paint and scribbling use of pen create vibrant, energised painting that is sincere in celebrating its own tastelessness, and revels in the the romanticism of the big night out.
Can You Feel It? borrows its title from the bouncy House classic by Larry Heard. In Cheetham’s title there is a nod to his continued interest in the legacy of rave culture, its promise and positivity. But also a wink to its comedown , the inevitable feelings of loss and the cultural exhaustion found in such tropes as smiley faces, colourful pils, and baggy jeans. Can you feel it even though the music has stopped?
Cheetham’s installed figures can be read as a goofy allegory for a contemporary culture of consumption in troubled times. Like the ravers of the 80’s who spurrned Thatcherism and unwittingly (and knowingly) challenged the establishment through their pop up parties, mass gatherings and booming music, Cheetham’s figures unabashedly offer up their own hedionistic antidote inviting us to escape from Brexit, Austerity and Climate Chaos, even though its an antidote that will leave them, and us, spent and wasted in the morning.
*Italian, literally ‘head with the hair standing on end’ meaning both a lively piece of short music and a painting with fantasy and realist elements
Joe Cheetham (1992) lives and works in Glasgow. Graduating from the MFA at Edinburgh College of Art in 2017 previous exhibitions includeTrade Gallery, Nottingham , Jackob Kroon Galeri, Slugtown, Newcastle and Voidoid, Glasgow.
A specially commissioned text entitled Big Body, by Rebecca Oliva accompanies the exhibition and is free and available to download.
All images courtsy of Tom Carter