Jock Mooney: The Eyes Turn`d Inward for the Nightmare was Real
10 May – 30 June 2012
Preview: Wednesday 9 May 5:30-7:30
Gallery hours: Wed – Sat 12-5pm
Jock Mooney constructs a world populated by grotesque characters, weird animals, lurid flowers and morphed effigies of historical, mythical and religious figures. Equally bizarre objects, composed of fingers, bones and fried eggs, take the form of memorial wreaths. Mooney creates a carnivalesque horror show that raises a distorted mirror to the modern world. Junk food, pop icons, religion, history, and art are all fair game, and Mooney takes no prisoners.
His figures and objects, exquisitely sculpted from plastic modelling clay and hand painted in high gloss, are often perched defiantly on plinths constructed from everyday materials, such as polystyrene takeaway cartons. With their exaggerated features, they wave a satirical finger at the traditional sculptural portraits and icons of high art, as well as the ceramic ornaments lovingly arrayed in glass-fronted cabinets in countless domestic parlours.
Mooney’s drawings are equally uncompromising, offering similarly monstrous visions of apocalypse. In his pen and ink drawings, distorted human and animal skulls grimace and howl, their empty sockets stare mindlessly at us. It’s only when we examine them closely we see they are composed of writhing fingers and hands – as gracefully drawn as those of angels in a mediaeval manuscript – stretched out in apparent supplication, as if some of the characters in Mooney’s never-ending danse macabre have succumbed to despair, drowning in madness.
Fascinated in the varying ways in which societies visually memorialise death – in particular the gaudy ceramic wreaths seen in French graveyards – Mooney’s own wreaths are collaged from hand drawn and coloured images, cut out of card, and combined and contrasted in a variety of formations. Composed of dismembered body parts and the debris of everyday life, stray fingers dance with severed heads, swirling in a wild vortex, acting as both momento mori and doorways into some terrible void.
There is no pretence or politeness here, instead we are presented with an eclectic, unashamedly alternative view of the world. The artist asserts truly lateral thinking, subversive and unique. Visually informed by both high and low culture – from pop art, underground comic books of the 1960s and manga, to pastoral landscapes, Japanese prints and nursery rhymes – all Mooney’s work shares the same imaginative manipulation of materials, intensity of labour, and quirky outlook that is equally disturbing and endearing.
Jock Mooney was born in Edinburgh, in 1982, and currently lives in London. He studied at Edinburgh College of Art, 2000-04. He has recently finished work on a collaboration with animator Alisdair Brotherston as part of a contribution to the film based on A Liar’s Autobiography: Volume VI, the autobiography of the late Graham Chapman of ‘Monty Python’, due for cinema release later this year. ‘The Eyes Turn’d Inward for the Nightmare was Real’ is Mooney’s third solo exhibition for Vane. Recent group exhibitions include ‘THE FUTURE CAN WAIT presents: Polemically Small’, Torrance Art Museum, Torrance, California, ‘Pile’, Chapter, Cardiff (2011), ‘Deadpan’, The Royal Standard, Liverpool, ‘Laboratory’, Jerwood Space, London (2010), ‘Strange days and some flowers’, Storey Gallery, Lancaster, and ‘Rotate’, Contemporary Art Society, London (2009). Solo exhibitions include ‘A Show Withdrawn’, Galleri 5, Lund, Sweden (2008), and ‘Funland was no more’, Gimpel Fils, London (2007).
First Floor, Commercial Union House
39 Pilgrim Street
Newcastle upon Tyne
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