James Freeman Gallery is pleased to present ‘Pretty Disastrous’, a new large scale installation by the British artist Craig Fisher.
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.
‘Pretty Disastrous’ contains several sculptures that take violence or disaster as their starting point. ‘Pile’, a collection of oversized fabric weapons, sits in one corner like an Itchy & Scratchy weapons amnesty, or equally like the start of getting tooled up for a fight. In another corner ‘Chopper’, an oversized cartoon axe, sits alongside a smashed up fabric pallet that litters the space with destruction. His multi-layered disaster drawings have a purity of line that is charmingly simple, almost naïve, and yet feel cold and clinical in light of the subject matter. Every element of the installation is designed to create contradictions. Visually it may be violent but conceptually, it’s disarming, an object lesson in just how seductive the process of disorientation can be.
Craig Fisher (b. 1976) graduated from Goldsmiths College, University of London with an MA (Distinction) in Fine Art in 2000. He has exhibited widely both in the UK and internationally, with solo exhibitions at CoExist Gallery, Southend (2011), Bonington Gallery, Nottingham (2009), Galerie BK, Bern, Switzerland (2008), and Rokeby, London (2007), and group exhibitions including South London Gallery, London (2010), Cafe Gallery Projects, London (2009), Artspace, Sydney (2007) and Mark Moore Gallery, Los Angeles (2006). He also curated and exhibited in Pile, Surface Gallery, Nottingham (2010), which was one of 15 commissioned projects for Sideshow 2010 in Nottingham. The exhibition then went on to tour to Chapter Arts Centre, Cardiff, (2011).