In The Pelican | Tim Dodds

EXHIBITION | 7th - 9th July 2017

Gallery opening times:
Saturday 8th – Sunday 9th July, 11pm – 6pm

Preview: Friday 7th July, 6pm – 9pm

“…wonderful things can be accomplished in the studio when it is shut off from the outside world. Working again and again with the same wretched pigments, the same frowzy brushes, the same paint stained walls, can be exactly what is needed to bring something worthwhile to life.” James Elkins, What Painting Is (1999)

The pelican is a hermetically sealed glass apparatus used by alchemists in which base material is circulated in the hope of transmutation. It’s name, like its shape shape is derived from the bird to whom various myths are attached.  The circulatory system is an apt metaphor for a painter’s studio, at least for a painter like Tim Dodds. Other than materials for painting, little of any value gets into Dodds’ metaphorical pelican, only mere scatterings, the detritus of packaging and building. The materials are abject: plaster, polysterene foam, cardboard, a discarded feather. In Dodds’ studio, as in the pelican, the hope is that transformation can be effected; in this case, into shimmering succulent painting rather than the perfection of essence and element. The pelican is not a safe place, its circulations are a risky business. With nowhere to escape, the gases given off in its hermetically sealed apparatus make it prone to explosion. Yet, the energy that causes the pelican to auto-destruct is, in Dodd’s studio, channeled into works of art.

Dodds is a painter of still lifes, a tradition that requires the painter to paint objects set up expressly for the purpose of painting. But his are no ordinary objects, they are abject bits of stuff thrown together ‘as if’ they were objects. Others who indulge in this practice include the painters Ivan Seal and Jonny Green. The abjection of these models neither precludes their individuality nor potential for expression. Not for public consumption, such models escape the pelican only when in painted form. Then, with nothing else to go on, the viewer has no other option but to be drawn into the mysterious transmutational process of base paint with abject material that is recorded at its surface. It is now here that the painted model becomes subject to, what Nicholas Davey terms, “hermeneutic ambushes”, interpretations that the artist could neither have envisaged or foreseen. But back in the pelican, having had their moment, the models themselves are no longer of consequence; they await either extinction or reincarnation.

Text by Frances Woodley