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Breakfast without the Bacon

by Ed Young / 17.09.2010

It all came as a bit of a shock one morning when we were told that rockstar artist Zander Blom had left the Whatiftheworld stable for the Michael Stevenson international powerhouse. The news also came a few mornings after having breakfast with artist Charles Maggs who cried and said: ”I really don’t understand it. Michael isn’t calling. I wait everyday and he just doesn’t call.”
But Blom got the call and his parents were very happy. The majority of the exhibition had apparently sold out prior to the opening.

The work is very unlike the artist’s previous show, a mere few blocks down Woodstock’s main road. There are paintings, drawings and photographs on the walls and the show is titled PAINTINGS. DRAWINGS. PHOTOS.

Exhibition halls are filled with ginormous paintings on unbleached linen with nothing on them but blotches of really thick oil paint that makes the gallery smell like Pratley’s Putty. They are really big and extremely ugly and resonate the first year painting studio where kids say they want to become painters. Compositionally they are ok, but in actual fact they are merely bits of Francis Bacon without the Bacon. And one is not sure if the cool oil blotches surrounding the paint will eventually rot away at the linen. Or whether this is intentional. The paintings are numbered instead of titled in a bit of a Martin Creed fashion.
Blom explains: “Figuring out your next move, brushstrokes staring back at you from the tussle of the night before. At home in Johannesburg my focus has shifted from making photographic works to working on oil paintings, having naturally gravitated towards a medium that I’ve loved from afar but previously only skirted around, flirted with and examined endlessly. Oil painting, which is not without its fair share of historical baggage, has finally ended up right in the centre of my life. In turn my house has evolved into a ramshackle painter’s studio. Now I find myself in my ever-changing swamp, knee-deep in references, smeared with paint, avoiding email, watching the paintings paint themselves, and seeing all the little degenerates pile up in the garage.”
This is all a bit of romanticised codswallop. But these colourful turds and vommies that occupy the canvas surface leave one with a trace and a sense of happiness. And one is left to ponder why… But maybe it is the sweet realisation that one less artist will go without supper tonight.

There are also some drawings on display but no one seems to remember them because of the sheer dominance of those god-awful paintings.

Zander Blom
The Black Hole Universe, Chapter 2. Scene 001, Berlin, 2010, C-print on Kodak Endura metallic gloss paper, 87 x 60cm, Edition of 3 + 1AP.

A definite highlight of the exhibition is that of the development of Blom’s photographs of corners of rooms titled The Black Hole Universe. Blom have been doing these for a while. Although they are not that outstanding as artworks, they definitely stand out in this exhibition because of their sharp qualities combined with good composition and the power of the Black and White photograph. But maybe it’s just cool kid skinny pant formalism and maybe they are quite meaningless. But at least they are pretty.
We don’t buy it. But some do. Why this sudden departure into this kind of decorative Cavendish Square 70’s hangover? This may be an artistic genius breach – or the influence of a new girlfriend/gallery (suppose they are pretty much the same) – or too much AC/DC in the studio. Who knows?
Or maybe it’s just about the cash.

*Opening Painting Caption:
1.1o Untitled
Oil and graphite on linen
198 x 140cm

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