Retinal Stain / Persistance rétinienne

Press release

Mat Collishaw, James Hopkins, Richard Woods
31/10/2003 > 20/12/2003

Opening on 31/10/2003, from 7 pm to 9 pm

"Retinal persistence: a phenomenon in which the visual sensation remains after the disappearance of the objective stimulation."

Firstly, residue and disorientation in RICHARD WOODS's installation, his first exhibition in France, a formal display takes over the whole space - from flooring in different tones of green to the walls inspired by cheap wallpapers. The traditional motifs of these elements oscillate between cheap Classicism and the pomp of 19th century French Romanticism: pastoral scenes, Turkish and Arab motifs, Regency style or Arts & Crafts. RICHARD WOODS extends these motifs with a handmade method using vivid colours, the result being voluntarily vulgar and garish, in contrast to the pseudo-pretentious and no longer fashionable good taste of these basic motifs. The juxtaposition of these shapes and colours is able to achieve a sense of saturation within the space, having a dense and dramatic effect.


A visual ambiguity is to be found in the manipulations of JAMES HOPKINS, who intervents in his first exhibition in France with various objects whose functions and significations have been modified, out of line with their original use and image. The association between the old and the new meaning of each object creates a suspended state of visual perception. Firstly, JAMES HOPKINS has assembled some everyday objects, easily identifiable at first glance but disconcerting at closer inspection. The door 'Paradox Passage' has an opening made of two vertical sections standing at right angles to the wall; these sections are attached on either side of two perpendicular mirrors. The door appears to be open or closed depending on one's viewpoint, introducing an alternative dimension to the space. 'Cuttings', is an axe whose handle has been remodelled in the shape of flower just starting to bloom from its stem, a poetic representation of the opposition between nature and a manufactured object. Nature reclaims its rights whilst the manufactured object returns to its material origins. Poetry is backed with humour in 'Rocking Chair', placed on a point of extreme balance, the work is perfect and precarious at the same time and seems to defy the laws of gravity. A snapshot of the exact moment before the fall, the sculpture makes us think of a person who keeps rocking until the fall. Poetry and humour are also to be found in 'Bucket', which encapsulates a perfect holiday paradise scene in a simple bucket. In the miniature masterpiece 'Salvation Lies Within', the form of a pistol is cut out from the pages of an illustrated family bible. A three-dimensional revolver is made from these cut outs, the gun's exact shape embedded inside the holy book - a witty reference to the custom in the wild west of hiding a gun in a dummy bible. In a powerful association, the sculpture also evokes the power of the written word and religion as a source of conflict.
'The Simpsons' is an anomorphic composition of tiny pieces of bent coloured plastic forming the family portrait with the characters of the eponymous cult cartoon. This contorted representation is only legible from a determined viewpoint, seen from anywhere else the sculpture nothing but an abstract and incoherent accumulation. With humour, JAMES HOPKINS associates the classic tradition of anamorphosis with a production of popular contemporary culture - the cartoon, from which the sculpture takes its principal physical form. Seeming to escape the laws of logic, the anomorphic and cartoons both make a remark on the flexibility of reality.


Finally MAT COLLISHAW, whose first exhibition in France a year ago was the inaugural exhibition at Cosmic Galerie, will present four new installations where even life appears as residue in the inanimate real. These installations take the form of video projections on old furniture suggestive of neo-Victorian interior. If these objects essentially belong to the realm of the inanimate and the perennial, the principle and the content of the videos are linked to a contemporary universe, to life and its fragility. The artist seeks to inspirate a spark of life in these objects in order to somehow re-animate them through his ghost-like videos.
Even if this breath is fragile, even if life is the exception and the inanimate rules, it is this spark that gives the objects their soul. The interior of a scene from Gone with the Wind is projected on the clock face of the grandfather clock. The scene takes place in a bedroom, from this room one can see the Big Ben; a child tosses and turns under the sheets and repeatedly cries as if having a nightmare: "Daddy, daddy"! The sound of his voice is faint and the unceasing ticking of the clock accentuates the ambiguity and oppressive character of the scene. Only the Big Ben in the film and the Neo-Victorian clock in the installation seem to be witnesses. The comforting image of the family clock and its almost anthropomorphic presence evoking the Big Ben, contrasts with the ambivalence of the situation. In 'Peacock', the bird's image is projected on a dividing screen. From the formal similarity of use of the screen and the peacock's tail, a conceptual link is added in the game of undressing and revealing, hiding in order to be more suggestive, suggesting and showing to more effectively seduce, seduce to more effectively trick. Veritable memento mori, 'Flower' gives the impression of a pedestal of life: on a table a horn is placed which supports a ball, inside of which the image of a precious flower is projected. The same in 'Bird' where the sweetness of the image of a bird stands in contrast to the idea and presence of the cage.