Showing at Mitchell-Innes and Nash Chelsea
April 14th - May 25th
The first glimpse you catch when entering David Godbold’s current exhibition is of a life sized acrylic and pencil drawing of St. Sebastian bound to a tree in a Christ-like pose and pierced with arrows. The message beneath him reads: ‘Popes stand to woods as bears stand to Catholics. No, that’s not right!’
It’s exactly this satirical interplay that allows Godbold to tackle weighty subject matter while keeping it in a lighter perspective.
Your second glimpse takes you to the wall that holds 125 small framed drawings. Godbold crafts ink drawings on sheets of tracing paper, then placing them above found objects such as journal entries, children’s homework assignments, graphs and karate schedules.
The element makes each particular drawing work is the caption which he has given to each drawing, as well as different remarks put into the air next to his muses.
The drawings themselves are reminiscent of Victorian era etchings, each painfully constructed with precision and intricacy to have the feeling of a different age. The matter beneath is often crude.
In A great day, two nude women hold a skull with an hour glass placed on top, staring at it with a look of sorrow. The caption beneath them reads: ‘Isn’t it a great day to be alive?’ Underneath the tracing paper is a woman’s personal weight-loss sheet marked with measurements for bust, hips and waist.
In Days of milk and honey, Mary sits atop a cloud in heaven holding the baby Jesus, as three men (saints? Prophets? My biblical awareness, alas, is not as strong as Godbold’s) look skyward. The caption below reads: ‘This is like the old days.’ Underneath is a child’s drawing of a king and Godbold has given Mary the quotation “The milk of human kindness days,” while one of the sages below proclaims, “The all or nothing days,” and finally the fellow in the corner simply has a thought bubble which reads: Bitchin’.
The archaic images which are fraught with religious undertones, keep popping up throughout, as it is obvious that Godbold is well versed and probably has some interesting thoughts on the existence of God. He gets to play the creator in The Unreliable Narrator and seeing as how they share the same name, why not?
The English born Godbold has resided in Dublin for the last 17 years and saved his last piece to be displayed against the far wall. In The Advance of Unreason, he gives a post-apocalyptic view of a wooded landscape, inhabited, by no one with a shining cross in the distance. In the smaller version of the piece there is an arrow pointing to a miniscule figure which he has said is himself, inching closer to that cross, while climbing a giant hill. The caption beneath could sum up the exhibition: ‘We do not have to pretend that this is the real world, this is the real fucking world! Right? Just in two dimensions. The third and fourth are in your head.’
James Armstrong is a tired old hack who lives in Manhattan.view all articles from this author