CHARLIE SMITH london: DOMINIC SHEPHERD - Jerusalem - 22 Nov 2012 to 22 Dec 2012
Dominic Shepherd 'New Jerusalem', 2012
Oil on canvas
Private View Thursday November 22nd 6.30-8.30pm
Exhibition Dates Friday November 23rd – Saturday December 22nd 2012
Gallery HoursWednesday–Saturday 11am–6pm or by appointment
The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom
In William Blake’s poem ‘Jerusalem’ the 18th century visionary asks whether Jesus Christ once visited England, as legend has suggested. And he asks, ‘was Jerusalem builded here, Among these dark Satanic Mills’? In doing so Blake condenses over a thousand years of history by visualising Jerusalem - or heaven - in the contemporary landscape of early industrialisation, and in England. The phrase ‘dark Satanic Mills’ belies Blake’s concern about the development of society, where relentless industrial and capital progress became a clear and prevailing threat to the individual and the spiritual. The perceived loss would be the pastoral, idyllic lifestyle defined by natural simplicity. At least, this is the view that returns in cycles throughout history and is recalled again by Dominic Shepherd.
Shepherd’s paintings represent a contemporary visualisation of the Golden Age, that idealised, mythical time in Arcadia of innocent pleasure. As with Blake’s ‘Jerusalem’, it is a place similar to Eden, that resonates with any individual who longs to remove himself, as Shepherd has done, from the flux of city life – from the industrial and technological. But the Latin phrase ‘Et in Arcadia ego’ warns us that ‘Even in Arcadia, I [death] am there’. And similarly Shepherd shows us that fear and loss also inhabit these mythical, idyllic worlds. Drawing on folklore and the transference of wisdom through festival and ritual, Shepherd depicts his subjects performing such rites. ‘The ghosts of England’ - Pearly Kings, Morris dancers, romantic poets, gurus - occupy his paintings, ‘working, singing or dying to create a New Age of Romantic pastoralism’. However, these pastoral revivalists twist and implode in the midst of Epicurean hedonism and counter cultural zeal.
Shepherd’s recent reintroduction of the tondo and of trompe l’oeil frames painted within the picture plane serve to help the illusion of observing this other world. We are quite literally given windows – or perhaps mirrors – that invite us to witness the rituals within his elaborate alternative reality. Personal memory, cultural and political history, dream, imagination and the hallucinatory are drawn on to form symbols, obscure meanings, suggested narratives, and allusion to the arcane. This invented domain is the artist’s New Jerusalem.
Education: 1994 – 1995: MA in Painting, Chelsea College of Art and Design; 1985 – 1988: BA (Hons) in Fine Art, Chelsea College of Art and Design
Selected Exhibitions: 2012: Jerusalem (one person), CHARLIE SMITH london, London; The Saatchi Gallery & Channel 4’s New Sensations and The Future Can Wait (curated by Zavier Ellis, Simon Rumley & Rebecca Wilson), B1, Victoria House, London; Black Mirror (with John Stark), Galerie Lichtpunkt - Ambacher Contemporary, Munich; Critical Dictionary, WORK, London; The Perfect Nude (curated by Phillip Allen & Dan Coombs), Phoenix Gallery, Exeter, 2011: Polemically Small (curated by Edward Lucie-Smith), Klaipeda Culture Communication Centre, Klaipeda; 2010: The Future Can Wait (curated by Zavier Ellis & Simon Rumley), Shoreditch Town Hall, London; Mycelium (one person), The Arts University College at Bournemouth; Territories, Galerie Schuster, Miami; Papyrophilia, CHARLIE SMITH london, London; DEMONOLOGY, CHARLIE SMITH london, London; New British Painting, Gallery Kalhama & Piippo Contemporary, Helsinki; 2009: In the Country of the Blind (one person), Galerie Schuster, Berlin; New London School (curated by Zavier Ellis & Simon Rumley), Galerie Schuster, Berlin; 2007: Meeting Place, Russell Cotes Art Gallery & Museum, Bournemouth
Collections: Paula Granoff, Providence, Rhode Island; Steve Shane, NYC; Markus Winzer, Untersiemau; Private collections in France, Germany, Japan, Switzerland, United Kingdom & United States
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