Pepperskin coated polyurethane foam Approx 120 x 100 x 100 cm From an edition of 3
17th February – 16th March 2012
A new series of works on paper, large scale paintings, foam sculptures and modified readymades.
Against the atmospheric backdrop of a creepy teen supernatural TV show, Semple weaves a story of a loser’s prayer to be more than human, to control and dominate his environment. Whilst doing so he makes a clear judgment over humankind’s longings for fame and fortune or triumph over mass-media culture. Rather like anti-anthems for teenage weirdos, these new works are firmly dedicated to the loner kids, like Semple, who only had their dreams to get them through the day.
The works depict a multi-faceted, pick and choose, hybrid environment, which visually is totally defined by mass culture and pop. This space is inhabited by all of us and defined by our choices, desires and preferences. The work critiques the ‘us-and-them’ separateness that comes out of this disparity. Any visual result of that external cornucopia of ‘stuff’ can only be in the past, an advertising campaign, music video or product is always pre-conceived. The only element that is truly of the moment is nature itself, and humanity is the most present force of that in this particular context. Therefore the new work addresses the felt emotion of separateness humankind faces whilst living in a consumerist pop-culture society.
Semple has always used text within his work believing it opens up a gigantic palette and vocabulary that includes almost every object and emotion in existence, “You can say so much with a few words that would be almost impossible to depict pictorially, and that awards me a huge amount of freedom”. The text elements often reference song lyrics that the artist found solace in during his own turbulent and often lonely adolescence. Through the written form voices of Placebo, Radiohead, Nirvana, REM and Echo and the Bunnymen provide a cerebral soundtrack for the viewer. Inside enigmatic anagrams and word-searches mini narratives hide a personal emotionality.
Stuart’s use of retro ‘SMEG’ fridges as a surface, coupled with his gestural modification of the objects themselves, continues his ongoing dialogue with art history, in this case specifically Koons, Warhol and Richard Hamilton. Rather than placing the readymade in the gallery as-is, Semple adds his trademark lyrical sloganeering, with his painterly gesture remaining intact throughout his usage of mass fabrication methods. The outcome is one where the cold banal blankness of the domestic home object is transformed into one with an emotional tone and a new communicative use.
Throughout his multi media works, including his fabricated sculptural pieces, Semple leaves traces of error, of gesture and of the hand of the artist. By mixing high and low tech, Semple’s works contradict the false hope that mass production and mechanization gave to previous generations of pop artists.