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Daryl Waller: Two Crosses
'Two hunters' (picture right) is the first painting in this, Daryl Waller's first solo show at Goldfish. It shows blue trees in a blue forest. In the branches sit two roughly painted alien figures, one of them with red rays emerging from its eyes. Executed with child-like simplicity in brightly coloured gouache, the work in its form at least, is strongly reminiscent of Roger Hilton's late paintings. It contains the first of several film references in the exhibition: this time to 'Predator' starring Arnold Schwarznegger.
Five works are placed on
the opposite wall in the shape of a cross. Though the links between them
are not clear, they are predominantly yellow and depict pyramids, so
suggesting Egypt and the Middle East. The top painting contains a
version of the Eye of Providence: an icon that features on the American
dollar bill, and thought to be a masonic symbol of the all-seeing eye of
God. The theme of the all-seeing eye, relating as it does eg to the eye
of Horus, appears and reappears in these works, and is particularly
affecting in the small and abject painting: 'Coughing Blood'.
paintings clustered in another cross, include one with another image of
Superman, this time with lasers emitting from his eyes, standing in a
kind of cemetery. Both works suggest a Hollywood (or Marvel-comic)
god-like figure ruling over the spirits of the afterlife.
The catalogue for the show was designed by Waller, and was, in this sense, a work in its own right. Nihilism and Neitzsche was mentioned more than once, and both appear to have been an important influence on the artist in the period leading up to the exhibition. Nietzsche was not himself a nihilist, but described nihilism as a condition of modern man, who no longer has faith or a set of absolute ideals and morals to believe in. A number of commentators, such as Baudrillard, have linked this to cultural and moral relativism: one of the core features of post-modernism.
Whether it is useful for artists to invoke such intellectual heavy-weights is debatable, however the 'relativism' of 'Two Crosses' results in a powerful collection of dense and complex works in which timeless religious iconography rubs up against contemporary archetypes, to create a fascinating - and liberating - total world view. This view is one that is able to connect in a multitude of ways with important themes, using a completely contemporary language.
Perhaps because of its affiliation with abstract art, and with 'beaux pienture', too much art from Cornwall is simply decorative and lacks genuine meaning or content. Waller is one of only a handful of artists working or showing here seemingly willing, or able, to change this.
Portrait of the artist as a Young Man can be viewed on the webproject
page or on the Goldfish website