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Justin Fitzpatrick

Seventeen
270-276 Kingsland Road, Entrance on Acton Mews
June 23, 2017–July 29, 2017

Justin Fitzpatrick, Libra Cat - Inner City, 2017, oil on canvas, 55 x 43".

Justin Fitzpatrick knows how to toy with perception—not just in the way that we see a thing, but also with how we might approach it in the first place. Flowing between three rooms, the paintings and sculptures in this exhibition turn living organisms into architectural forms and esoteric systems with a stylish, queenly panache. In The Song of Men (all works 2017), a regal-looking aluminum egg sits upon a glass sheet on a stool. Due to its size and scaly, ornamental surface, one can imagine the egg containing some fabulous reptilian creature. Coming out of its sides are cables that connect to two microphones standing on the other side of the room. Hanging above the object is a sculpture of stylized text that reads “Madrigal,” embraced by what seem to be long, thin bars that, on a closer look, are revealed as screaming, winged creatures. Perhaps they are performing a polyphonic melody—or breathing a death rattle.

The paintings depict myriad transformations. In two separate canvases, a man and a swan mutate into brightly hued ampersands (Message delivery failure and Failure to launch, respectively). In Aquarius Cat (Toilette), a skinned feline drinks water. We watch the liquid being imbibed and passing through its stomach, then being pissed out, emptying into a puddle. Another kitty looks like an urn in Libra Cat - Inner City. Within it are two men, perhaps cruising each other, in an Art Deco interior. Architects (Demi-Urges) shows a pair of muscular construction workers carrying homes on their shoulders. The work suggests a kind of eroticism through butch, sweaty labor. Overall, one gets a sense of what a world could look like should Fitzpatrick be its creator: labyrinthine, queer, and abundantly romantic.

Eliel Jones