Tom Cardwell presents precious objects from a parallel reality, fantastic jewels and motifs heavy with nostalgia and symbolism. His paintings and sculptures collect objects and decorations from historic genres such as the Baroque and Rococo, re-presenting them alongside icons of mass consumer culture. The resulting works often use mirroring and repetition to emphasise the unreality and artificiality of the creations, which are painted to falsely suggest precious metals.
Like a piece of costume jewellery or a plaster statue covered with gilt leaf, the works exploit a disconnection between surface and substance which is inherent in 21st Century society.
Likewise the sampling and juxtaposition of various symbolic devices and systems questions the contemporary habit of viewing the past as a romanticised atmosphere rather than a series of actual events and consequences.These works could be bespoke jewellery for modern celebrities or tomorrow’s heirlooms for late-capitalist dynasties. With a debt to many historical painting traditions, not least 17th Century Dutch still life, the artist celebrates the process and craft of painting and object-making in works that are visually rich and knowingly ostentatious.