London

Brad Lochore

Victoria Miro Gallery | 16 Wharf Road

In his recent “Still Life” series, Brad Lochore painted images of shadow projections seemingly set in motion. Unlike the Dutch Baroque approach to vanitas still life, in which solemn arrangements of benign objects suggest the fragility of human life by revealing their decaying physicality, Lochore’s hallucinatory paintings of shadows are almost weightless; they seem to locate the transitory in the image itself rather than in the passage of time.

Five large oils on canvas (each titled Shadow and designated by number) were based on an arrangement of an indistinct branch with dried-out leaves fastened to a pair of easels, illuminated by a simple tungsten light. Although the artist has previously worked from projections of computer-generated images, in this series he painted directly from the shadows cast by the light onto canvas, achieving a filmic, soft-brushed surface quality. A student of Gerhard Richter, Lochore clearly demonstrated in these new works how well he learned from the German artist to approach painting through photography without denying paint its capacity to be viscerally seductive. Also evident is Lochore’s interest in flickering cinematic passages, generated by his studies at a film and television school.

By floating pale images in a “milky” open space, Lochore skillfully emphasizes a vaporous tactility and the translucence of optical sensations. Shadow No 121 (Still Life), 1998, suggests a hallucinatory moving image so quick that its details are unrecognizable. The flicks of light in the painting, with their out-of-focus character, produce a sensation of double motion: toward a vanishing point and out of the canvas. Other works, executed in grays subtly ranging from cool values to warmer ones tinted with pinks, also “record” the evanescence of light while retaining a distinct presence as paintings. Lochore abstracted the still life, creating a world-in-flux effect by seeming to “zoom” in and out of the moving branch with leaves. At the same time, Lochore’s works communicate a slow, almost meditative, painting process, as if they were suggesting that the actual time of art-making stood in opposition to physical time.

Like many other contemporary artists, Lochore embraces irony (expressed in the ambiguous character of images, between representation and abstraction) and seduction (in the form of tactile sensuality). The works play with the notion of exact perception and the surrounding phenomenological concerns, addressing it a bit too obviously with their reproduction-of-reproduction quality. Nevertheless, Lochore succeeded well in using the medium of painting for ruminative introspection, persuasively conveying the modern vanitas condition.

Marek Bartelik