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Juxtaposition: Patrick Haughton and Volker Stox

Open Space Galleries, Penryn   4-25th April 2009




'Juxtaposition' brought together two artists whose work relates strongly to Cornish modernist abstract art of the last century.

Patrick is sometimes confused with David Haughton: an artist who showed in St Ives in the 40's. It's not surprising really as Patrick, a contemporary artist, makes paintings, collages and constructions that look almost exactly like paintings by Ben Nicholson and Picasso, even down to details like their titular references to France. These references are interesting as they seem to betray a nostalgia or yearning for a time when Europe, and Paris in particular, was centre of the cultural world. Of course their meanings are generational: for many France has lost its cultural prestige and is now more associated with car-ferries and cheap camping holidays.

Patrick does a faithful reworking of modernist painting. He does it straight-faced and without irony, and his best works have an elegance that is familiar and reassuring. Not surprisingly, then, he is one of the artists singled out for praise by Peter Davies in his most recent book.

Volker Stox has gone on a similar journey, but gone further and taken a different route. With an eclectic background in architecture and film-making, he is unusual in Cornwall in being an artist who is almost exclusively using digital processes to make images. These works, like Haughton's, are collages and constructions, but they are made inside a computer using a variety of layering techniques and image-processing programmes.

Printed onto canvas they are, superficially, like paintings, but their colours are more artificial and their surfaces flatter. They are nearly all given titles that link them to locations in West Penwith where Volker lives. This simple act creates an uncanny and original synthesis of the natural and technological sublime.