Jamie Fitzpatrick, (loudly) chomp, chomp, chomp
By SUSIE PENTELOW, MAR. 2016
Jamie Fitzpatrick’s sculptures explore the patriarchal power and dominance inherent in traditional figurative sculpture, particularly in monuments of historically significant figures placed in the public sphere. VITRINE’s space is a particularly pertinent place to be showing his work, viewable twenty-four hours a day to anybody moving through Bermondsey Square. Fitzpatrick envisages the exhibition space as a stage, setting the scene for a drama of three parts to unfold. His play, ‘(loudly) chomp, chomp, chomp’, follows the absurd and surreal drama of a horse that has abandoned servitude and taken a bite out of his master. Whilst the nurse chastises the horse, the king remains silent, leaving a hole in the hierarchy suggested by the presence of the three characters. The king would appear to be master, but where is his voice?
Inspired by absurdist theatre, particularly that of Samuel Beckett and the French playwright Molière, the play utilizes the grotesque to explore and undermine social conventions. In the foreground, motorized sculptures act out their parts – the multi- headed ‘Nurse’ stands with her back to ‘The Gentleman’ who rocks against the window, his plastic nose repeatedly collapsing against the glass. ‘The Horse’ on the far right, faintly reminiscent of a carousel stead, has three heads, each resting precariously upon an abbreviated torso. Against a lurid backdrop painted to resemble an interior wall peppered with dollops of wax reminiscent of manure, the stage is set for an outrageous and indecent comedy. Fitzpatrick drips wax onto readymade busts to make his conglomerate figures, and as a result the forms have an instability that undermines the solidity we associate with figurative monuments. Drips of congealed wax are a reminder that these monuments will deteriorate over time: hunks of wax might fall to the floor from the strain of repetitive movement, whilst exposure to heat and light could change the composition of the wax and result in melting or discoloration.
In the last panel, we meet the final sculpture, ‘The King’s Head’, and at the same time we lose the horse in the final page of the play. His disappearance leaves the nurse alone, emphasizing the uneasy sense of loss partially concealed by the humor of the play. With a brief text and a relatively limited stage, Fitzpatrick has managed to develop characters that elevate the gritty unease of social hierarchy. The work is boisterous and funny, but there is darkness in the suggestion of the subordination, suffering and rebellion present in the role of each character. This discomfort is echoed in the contortions of the figures, and the frustration of their limited movement. In their imprisonment behind glass, the figures have nothing but their pride to prop them up, and I am reminded of Samuel Beckett’s famous maxim: “When you're in the shit up to your neck, there's nothing left to do but sing”. WM
‘(loudly) chomp, chomp, chomp’ runs until 9 April at VITRINE, Bermondsey. For more information, visit http://www.vitrinegallery.co.uk.
Susie Pentelow (b. 1991, UK) is an artist and writer based in London, UK. She studied at Goldsmiths College (UK), The Siena Art Institute (IT) and Camberwell College of Arts (UK). She exhibits internationally alongside running and editing her online arts publication, Traction Magazine.view all articles from this author