Did You Think I'd Leave You Dying?
After a series of collaborations between Mexico and London, Chalton Gallery is pleased to present the solo exhibition of Guy Oliver: Did you think I would leave you dying, when there’s room on my horse for two? Oliver presents a new body of work exploring the complicated lines between comedy and tragedy. Collated from extensive archival material, the exhibition presents variously collaged and dissected found imagery and footage that attempt to unpick a notion of trauma and disorder within a sense of collective identity.
Text by Justin Fitzpatrick:
I feel like I'm being asked to play a game here. We open on left screen with a phlegmatic voice reading football scores, (we’re going to find out later on that this is Mark E Smith, frontman of the fall) Then right screen shows two perfectly pruned trees. And now there’s music, it’s over-familiar, but i can’t place it. Maggie Thatcher appears like some supernatural entity from between the two trees, it’s giving me monolith from 2001, or Under the Skin vibes. Maggie is an extra-terrestrial terror here, brought down to earth to wreak destruction, in a beige dress suit. I try and make connections where there are none probably. I know for a fact though, that we’re firmly located in Britain. There’s something in the way the images and scenes are being pitched at me, there’s a kind of gaping deep dread sitting under the surface of the whole video. A specifically English kind of churning boredom. Something about a national identity (we’re pointing towards Mark Leckey’s ‘Fiorucci' here but this doesn’t seem to be celebratory like his piece, this feels more like End of Days)
Here’s a dog howling in anguish at the tv playing the opening tune of Eastenders. Here’s Jimmy Saville bringing a group of young girls up to a door and knocking. It’s Maggie again behind the door. Weston Super Mare pier is on fire. There’s an old english guy who I can’t recognise but he keeps on baring his teeth like an animal, he seems so angry, he’s holding something really violent inside himself, it’s horrible to watch. I’m starting to think about the popular culture it’s depicting. Darts, football, Eastenders. A body language expert interpreting a blonde woman who wears a headscarf and smokes a cigarette. Is she a hostage, is she radicalised. More darts. This darts is super showbizzy, though. I don’t usually watch darts but i had no idea it was so camp. Maggie is signing something, probably something fucking horrible. ‘Where is my mind’ is being played on a piano by a guy who’s dressed like my dad in the 80’s. I think about J G Ballard’s High Rise for some reason. Oh God it’s fucking Rolf Harris.
What’s being asked here? There’s something about stitching together so many very pointed references like this, it’s asking a question, it definitely is. It’s so specific. But I can’t unpick it, because there are too many lines of flight, i found it getting dizzier and dizzier as it went on. By the time the film is over, and we’re watching that lady who Gordon Brown thought was a bigot pulse into unity with Maggie again, I start to feel like an animal. I start to think about the first scene again, Mark E Smith reading the football out, and the utter meaninglessness of football itself. Everyone watching the fucking football and darts while this pneumatic Gorgon beams down and destroys British society from the inside out.
Guy Oliver 1982 London, UK.
Graduated from The Royal College of Art, Painting MA, 2015. Recent exhibitions and screenings include, Edinburgh Artists Moving Image Festival 2016 (Filmhouse, Edinburgh, 2016), The Bomb Factory Artist Film Festival II (The Bomb Factory, London, 2016), Outpost Members Show 2016 (OUTPOST, Norwich, 2016), Life Was Meant To Be Awesome (Chalton Gallery, London 2016), Mono 5 (Courtyard Theatre, London, 2016), Guilt Complex (Bikini Wax, Mexico City, 2016), Two Hundred Acres (Pump House Gallery, London, 2015), RCA Graduates Show 2015 (Royal College of Art, London, 2015), Heckle (Bosse and Baum, London, 2015), (I Wanna Give You) Devotion (Hockney Gallery, London, 2015). His work is represented in The Zabludowicz Collection and The Royal College of Art Collection.
Exhibition Dates: 18 of February - 4 of March 2017.
Opening Times: Tuesday to Saturday. 12-6 pm and by appointment.