From Andrew Frost…
It’d be fair to say that Rob McHaffie has always been a bit of a joker. When McHaffie was included in the 2006 Primavera exhibition one of his paintings was Woody and Soon-Yi a blunt visual pun on the marriage of Woody Allen to Soon-Yi Previn, the stepdaughter of his former partner Mia Farrow. While the painting was more or less grotesque [a wooden china doll juxtaposed with a phallus and bespectacled pot plant] it was a curious insight into McHaffie’s imagination, a place where the equivalence of visual experience produces both sublime and absurd meetings of objects and meanings.
For Let’s See How We Go, McHaffie is on much the same conceptual ground, but where many of his older paintings depicted objects floating in a white void, this new series feels more complete and, dare we say it, art historical [in a good way]. Matisse Practicing His Foxtrot, for example, places the fabled modernist painter in a red and purple forest, or maybe in a psychedelic nightclub foyer, with withered leaves and shiny RM Williams boots. McHaffie’s new pictures have a Euro-expressionist vibe a la Neo Rausch, but with a wider and more pleasing range of subjects – portraits, still lives and a touch of Tretchikoff-style exotica. And of course the jokes. In one painting Pere Ubu and Anyong Soo Chee hold up a possibly drunk Jesus Christ between them. The title? Found Him.
Until September 29
Darren Knight Gallery, Waterloo.
Pic: Rob McHaffie, Matisse practising his foxtrot, 2012. Oil on linen, 87x72cm. Courtesy the artist and Darren Knight Gallery.
The Art Life’s ‘Exhibitions’ section previews new and upcoming shows of note. Like to be included? Send info + pics to: the art life at hot mail dot com. Include “Exhibitions” in the subject line.