Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Four Star Timeout Review for John Stark

John Stark's one person show at the gallery continues to attract attention including a five out of five with Art Review's 'Artcalendr'; Russell Herron's pick of shows during October's First Thursday; and Rebecca Geldard's four star out of five review for Timeout (below):

"Emerging painter John Stark is known for impressive, if rather boy's bedroom, re-workings of mythological narratives and old master techniques. For this, his first London solo show, 'Meliora Silentio', Stark has wisely stepped out of overtly folksy old-world allegorical territory into some sci-fi and cinematic realms that are a bit closer to home.

For an exhibition hingeing on the idea of keeping quiet, though, the press text certainly makes a lot of noise. But once over the brook-like flow of philo- and psychobabble Stark's detailed, formally restrained, panels offer some truly odd perspectives on what it means to negotiate and contribute to the tech-savvy flow of cultural production.

There is still a heady whiff of album-cover-art-apocalypse about this latest series of landscapes and interiors - putrid nests, cancerous candyfloss skies and piss-coloured Dali-fied pools appear, against the clinically painted odds, to stagnate in the crepuscular gloom. But the plot (and our interest) thickens when Stark appears aware and making use of rather than hiding in past painters' handling of human dilemmas and the time-based image.

While it's hard to care about the technical wizardry (or narrative quandry) of the KKK-style, yellow hoodie-wearing beekeeper in the wooden-panelled cult HQ, elsewhere, seventeenth-century skies and alien-invaded copses appear to hover, charged with the same portent as the frozen televisual or smudged Photoshopped image.

Does Stark really bring one to a point of Nietschean-fuelled 'contemplation on the nature of existence, spirituality and death'? Not exactly, but one can appreciate the sentiment - a sense of futility at the endless recycling of life and ideas. If it wasn't for the endemic spread of information these paintings would be a lot less interesting, the artist less able to drag the viewer, however reluctantly, from the golden age of painting to the digitally reproducible one, via Asimov and 'The Wicker Man'."

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