George Rouy: Clot
Hannah Barry Gallery, London
Written on the occation of Clot, a solo exhibition of new work by George Rouy presented by Hannah Barry Gallery (23 September – 7 November 2020). The exhibition saw the largest series of paintings made by the artist to date, focusing on single or coupled figures in states of tension and ecstacy.
Capable of repose and disturbance, equilibrium and discontent, these new works presented us with images that could not exist in another time, place or context than our own. The subjects behave visually as the word does verbally. They secrete, congeal and thicken, pushing toward the limit of intensity. In each case, a bloc of sensations presents a language without articulation, a set of transitions and becomings that transmute the body into a primal howl.
︎︎︎ Exhibition Images
“The figures presented in Clot do not have predictable movements but instead produce events and haecceities. Less defined by their flesh and organs than by interior forces. The use of large gestural brushwork—industrious strokes that call to mind processes of archaeology, excavation and geology—is coupled with the granular minerals of paint and pigment, undermining the body as a unified whole or unit, gendered and purposeful. Their ambiguity is felt in space but also in time, celebrating a dynamic temporality in the painting and on the painting’s surface.
Lighter passages of pure colour and flatness contrast with liquid black outlines (indications of their origin as digital drawings), reminding us of what the advances of digital experience—and a life on screen—permits and refutes. They present a means of escape or disruption, an approach to the body irreducible to the logic of consumption. The calm repose of seated and standing subjects, the comfort of strangers. Together these techniques speak to the fluid potential of the body and embodiment: a fever dream of secrecy and turmoil, proximity, distance and ecstasy—a falling shadow.
Antonin Artaud wrote, “When you will have made him a body without organs, then you will have delivered him ... and restored him to his true freedom.” No longer the body of labour but of intensity and transmission, these works are without determination. They mark something that can no longer be contained; a horizon and a threshold, passing into something new. Raw conjunctions of bent limbs, passing glances and crooked smiles are scant clues as to their origin or outcome. Instead, a continua of intensities crawl over and through the skin. Constrict the wound, stop the bleeding: the clot will form.”