Walking into a Craig Fisher installation is like stepping onto a cartoon film set, only to find that the plot has turned decidedly sinister. The colours and wall patterns are bright and playful; the objects are over sized and over-simplified, fashioned out of fabric to be soft and gentle. But the scene itself tells a different story: smashed up structures strewn across the floor, bloodstains on the wall, an axe lying in the corner… The whole space speaks of menace, like a kind of soft play for psychopaths. Violence and Velcro, disaster and decoration – Fisher’s world is a stitch-up of contradictory ideas.
It’s clear that Fisher’s work is all about play, but his toys are ideas rather than objects. Hard/soft, threatening/friendly, fun/fearful – Fisher’s mise-en-scene puts the reliability of any clear-cut distinctions in doubt. This active ambiguity carries through to all levels of his work. Although composed of individual sculptures, his installations operate as images, like cinematic scenes to be physically explored. The use of fabric and stitching is essentially ‘craft’, and yet the installations are clearly ‘fine art’ in thought, ambition and execution. The references at work jump from popular TV & film such as South Park or Kill Bill at one moment, to the sculpture of Claes Oldenburg or Richard Artschwager the next. At every stage, Fisher’s work defies straight definition.