From Andrew Frost…
The link between contemporary art and the wilds of science fiction is found through the bad lands of SF illustration. Even with the post modernist tendency to treat so-called high and low cultures as having equal value [which is to say that good and bad can be found in both] science fiction illustration remains just too outré for most contemporary art fans But the modern visual language of science fiction, itself a series of icons, tropes and techniques handed down since the 19th century – is not only a fascinating legacy of modernism but also a reflection of the sorts of concerns that obsesses contemporary art such as identity, agency and nature.
Nick Stathopoulos‘s latest exhibition Anthropocene: Found Objects from a Lost Civilisation is a fine example of just what SF-inspired painting can achieve. The artist, well known for his Toy Porn series, has created a series of disturbing, floating objects – sentinels with eyes, some blind, all lined up in photo real landscapes and skies. The tension between era;its representation and fantastic scene is part surrealist heritage, but to the otaku fans of SF, there are numerous hints and suggestions of Stathopoulos’s influences to be found – the title painting suggests the work of Bruce Pennington, a painter of iconic 70s era SF book covers, while nods to both Miyazaki‘s characters and Roger Dean‘s floating islands – not to mention the dread presence of Lovecraft’s ancient ones. Stathopoulos demonstrates that this kind of art isn’t just visually arresting, it’s also highly literate.
Until October 18
NG Art Gallery, Chippendale
Pic: Nick Stathopolous, Anthropocene, 2014. Oil on board.