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© Ian Gonczarow 2008

Mr and Mrs Andrews (recent solo show at Bond House Projects)

Beginning with Thomas Gainsborough’s 1750 painting of Mr. and Mrs. Andrews, Gonczarow re-imagines and repurposes the pre-modern paradigm of class critique and the teleological implication of struggle embedded there. In a work of the same name, the stormy sky of the Gainsborough original (a backdrop for the wealthy landowners) is ripped and replaced with a pastiche of German painter Günter Forg’s daubs, accompanied by tropical palms and masculine toys that act as proxies for the original content.

Gonczarow collages pre-modern and modernist paintings across this series to open up a dialogue between representations of power and painting genres. Samples of narrative painting Abstraction and Neo Geo interact simultaneously, as the artist melds direct copies from paintings greats such as de Kooning or Franz Kline. Collaged elements and devices of the Gainsborough work are also juxtaposed against loaded contemporary and historic pop culture references including trash TV shows from corresponding decades.

Geometric devices, often borrowed from mathematics textbooks or late cubist painting are used to ‘stand in’ and assume the omnipresence of some ambiguous regime that might be at home in Orwell’s 1984. The paintings and installation divert historic narrative courses into a space where signs of power are compressed into the same visual regime as powerlessness.

Social media and its image libraries are significant to the artist, as the often nuanced and indirect socio-political content of some elements used in this body of work, may initially appear glib or trite. Online platforms offer followers the choice to browse the body of work in book-like fashion as though via an artists monograph. This exhibition of work brings together a range of thought, expression and musing on recent fascinations in a similar format. The painting Diff’rent Strokes for example appears as a post card motif, pinned to a medium sized canvas containing 1980’s Neo-Geo styled compositions. The American TV show, shown in Britain as part of children’s programming on ITV in the same decade, explored the lives of two African American children, adopted into a wealthy white middle class family in New York. Feminist comedian Amy Schumer, famous for her direct challenges to male dominated paradigms, drinks a large glass of wine in a wash of hard edged abstraction in one macho scaled work, and we find ourselves faced with a scene from an alcohol fuelled Tiki paradise from the 50’s, dominated by a geometric symbol, reminiscent of some hard line regime best forgotten.

Recent trends in painting are also slewed across the many canvases and surrounding installation in this show, whether a lame nod to the notion of the post-analogue condition or the recent fetishisation of cheap building material in sculpture via a painting of OSB. Nothing is sacred and nothing is without use or recyclability in this particular discourse