Private View & Figuring Out Figurative Art Launch: Tuesday 4 November, 6 – 9 pm
The Charnel House Book Launch & Late Opening: Wednesday 26 November, 6 – 9 pm
Show runs: 5 November – 13 December 2014
Click HERE to view the recently compiled overview of Tom de Freston’s work, 2009 – 2014.
BREESE LITTLE are pleased to present Tom de Freston’s fourth solo exhibition with the gallery. Coinciding with the publication of three books connected to his work, this collection of recent large scale canvases are presented at a key moment in de Freston’s career. Forming part of a larger retelling of the mythological story of Orpheus and Eurydice, de Freston creates a mutating underworld as seen by Orpheus, who is lost so completely that he stumbles from his own myth into the Minotaur’s. Ovid’s original version of the story is a few hundred words long, but has since expanded exponentially. De Freston takes this growth to its apocalyptic conclusion, depicting the Underworld as a space in which time and history has collapsed into one building, a space beyond narrative.
The Underworld is pieced together as a realm of staged domestic spaces, with windows and doorways offering openings onto glittering, otherworldly weatherscapes. Each painting is a window onto a room, full of minotaurs, lost voices and monsters. Characteristic motifs from de Freston’s previous painting series recur here, containing the outlandish scenography between dated decor such as chequered stages, solitary light bulbs, hanging disco balls, bare stairs and floorboards.
De Freston draws together narratives of identity and entrapment, revealing the continuing importance of ekphrasis in his work, the exchange between one art form responding to another. In particular, the relationship between poetry and painting through contemporary and historical references. In one triptych of paintings, Francesca Woodman’s photographs are restaged as disappearances of Eurydice. Another canvas borrows from Jon Klassen’s children’s book The Dark, with the addition of a Maurice Sendak ‘Wild Thing’ descending the cellar stairs. The Alexmenos Graffito, the earliest depiction of Christ on the cross, Caravaggio’sSt Peter and Titian’s Flaying of Marsyas are echoed in a kaleidoscope of kitsch cruelty. Boats and rafts drift through homes; one carries a lamenting Pasiphae and in another the tragic story of Elsje Christiaens, as depicted by Rembrandt in a late drawing.
Orpheus and The Minotaur coincides with the publication of Figuring Out Figurative Art by Routledge, a collection of essays by 13 contemporary philosophers responding to the work of 10 contemporary painters. Two essays are dedicated to de Freston’s work. The exhibition Private View will also host the London book launch at 7.30 pm, 4 November.
The exhibition is accompanied by a full catalogue of de Freston’s artworks and exhibition history from 2009 – 2014, compiled by BREESE LITTLE. Hard copies available at the gallery and viewable online HERE.
The gallery will host the launch of de Freston’s poetic graphic novel The Charnel House, published by Bridgedoor Press, Wednesday 26 November, 6 – 9 pm with a late exhibition view. Hard copies available at the gallery and online