“After being fetured in Charles Saatchi’s Newspeak: British Art Now show, artist Jonathan Wateridge has returned to launch a solo exhibition showcasing seven huge artworks.
Another Place depicts scenes from the production of an American film of the artist’s When you first see all of the 3 x 4m oil paintings in one space you feel as though you have stepped directly into a meticulously fabricated world. A sense of unease and disquiet pervades the canvases and though each image relates to the disaster, there is only one explicitly catastrophic scene: a section of an overpass that has collapsed onto the ground below. The idea of divided strata runs throughout the series. This is represented by certain motifs such as the division caused by the collapsed highway, or within the work’s fictional cityscape; the relationship between hillside and valley living and its connotations of class and economy. Further schisms within the images are created by blurring the boundaries between the narrative of the imagined film and its production process.
The production of the paintings is in itself a playful echo of film making. Prior to the first marks on canvas; scale model sets are built, props fabricated, costumes made and performers cast in each role. But this is serious play; role play for grown-ups that has more sober subtexts. The paintings draw you in and once you have established a genuine, though uncanny, relationship with the figures depicted, the elaborate fiction is then disturbed by the underlying constructions being revealed.
Wateridge uses these visible seams in this alternate reality to create a Brechtian sensation of defamiliarization and estrangement. The subtle dislocations within the narrative of each image emphasize this notion of intrinsic remove. The paintings show us that ultimately, in a world defined by the consumption of received and generic imagery, everything occurs for someone else and in another place.”