Tom de Freston: The Charnel House
Breese Little Gallery- 12th of November 2013-11th January 2014
They inspire in the reader/viewer the same sense of disquiet and dread and awe – because there is beauty too. It’s like you’ve both breathed in his darkness and made it your own. (Sir Anthony Sher on House of the Deaf Man)
Obsessed by images of humanity on the very edge of disintegration, Tom de Freston is audacious enough to convey our most haunted fears about a world struggling for survival in the twenty‐first century. (Richard Cork)
The Charnel House is the culmination of Tom de Freston’s recent series of large‐scale paintings, piecing together theatrical fragments of a wider narrative. Horse‐headed figures are the recurrent central characters, appearing in desperate and tortured scenarios, where they precariously grasp at one another, life and death. Relationships shift and change across the canvases as de Freston puppeteers newly challenging contexts.
Intimate interiors and domestic settings replete with uncannily everyday flowers, light bulbs, bathtubs, doorways and windows form flatly painted stages, reminiscent of de Freston’s previous bodies of work. Elsewhere, the beseeching protagonist is contained by a chequerboard stage or mattress if not reappearing in vast sublime landscapes framed by a swirling tempest.
De Freston’s careful balance between thick, frenzied passages of oil and sleek, one‐dimensional blue backgrounds destabilises a secure reading of the work, emphasising the ambitious proportions of this complex mythology which never rests. The Charnel House reaches its expressive pitch with crucifixion scenes and apocalyptic diptychs, massing the cast together in its entirety, recalling the final scene devices of epic literature and playwrights.