Occupying the new FRED gallery on a rainy Vyner Street is the first solo exhibition of David Lock, ‘Misfits and Maladies’. Made up of two quite different parts, and also split between the FRED galleries in London and Leipzig, disjunction seems to be the order of the day.
The first section, ‘Misfits’ is part of an ongoing watercolour series of collage portraits that take elements from glossy magazine advertisements and pictures of film and music stars, something Lock connects to the “mix and match games” of Hannah Hoch and the Dada artists. It is a study concerned with “beauty and its construction”. These paintings do indeed deconstruct our notion of beauty, questioning the need for harmony as the prerequisite of an attractive image. At the same time they seem to construct a strange kind of beauty of their own. Freakish and unsettling, they are also strangely appealing and certainly more striking than their airbrushed origins. The strange, characterless expressions seem unsettlingly vulnerable, as though we are looking at the victims of our appearance conscious society.
Lock’s newer works, which form the second part of the collection feel quite different. These beautiful, haunting images explore the symbiosis of man with noble animals and through this the animalistic subconscious of humanity. Collage and line drawing, man and beast, skin and claws, these disjointed yet wonderfully executed images are masterpieces of the imagination. A bewildered young face seems confused by the army of octopus tentacles submerging him, whilst a headless man with wings for a body sits with what looks like the arm of a gorilla draped casually over his shoulder. All these figures seem slightly lost and at odds with the world. Mythical and sexual, the pieces culminate in a large image of a werewolf, whose masculinity, isolation and associations with popular culture seem to sum up the themes of the collection.
Finding myself trundling into the building site next door in the search of more of the same, I think how nice it would be jet of to Leipzig for the second installment. And the collection does feel frustratingly small. Small, I suppose, but perfectly formed. Perusing these perfectly strange forms under the glare of the crisp white walls of this crisp new gallery, wearing a sodden green anorak and dripping onto the virgin floors, I feel like quite the Misfit myself. And perhaps that is the point.
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