The following text is refering to the Paintings under the site title Ernst.

“Images are not objective or subjective renditions of a pre-existing condition, Or merely treacherous appearances. They are rather nodes of energy and matter. That migrate across different supports”.

Hito Steyerl – Duty Free Art

There is a distinct contemporary ability to scour and mine through all aspects of image culture almost instantaneously, by way of the enhanced capabilities granted to us via prostheses like the internet and other methods of digital media distribution. Such is the plethora of information available to anyone person at any one time in the contemporary moment, it is notable that Mr Fat Plastic has returned to, and ruminated on, Max Ernst’s seminal 1940’s work, La Toilette de la Marée as inspiration for this new triptych of paintings.

A work emblematic of illusionistic Surrealism, its reemployment here may at first appear idiosyncratic, but I believe it speaks to this contemporary nebulous quality that fellow artist and theorist Hito Steyerl attributes to images generally, namely that they have this increased dispersion, moving throughout our day to day lives, which if stepped out of or reappraised for a moment is profoundly surreal. Think about how you may see an advert on the bus, which then repeats again on your phone – and then someone mentions a phrase to you, and it mirrors the same image again – the recurrent bit of information transposes itself across many forms, shapeshifting, and moulding to these different surfaces in a second, independent of the image’s prior art historical significance, or any previous value for that matter. It’s perhaps amusing to consider that when in amongst our 24/7 capitalist system the only respite from this pervasive spread of media is granted to us when we’re asleep. Given that the surrealists themselves united around a desire to manipulate or control the dream state, to achieve a different kind of creativity; by using and manipulating the image of Ernst’s work as part of this new series – it feels akin to MFP utilising the medium of surrealism as medium, as a method to sift through and ruminate on how the qualities that Steyerl highlights affects our contemporary subjectivities and the practice of making artwork. The historical heft of Ernst’s work has equal weighting to that of an Instagram post, they have the same hybridity of presence.

In the painting, A Delicate Truth, A drape of cadmium red fabric is dissected by a sharp continuation of acid lime green, the many legs spread across the composition are climbing into each other – your eye races to complete the varied and arresting image, slotting the pieces back into place. Cut torsos are diverting, there are frames within frames, pictures within pictures. Notable elements are reoccurring, even glitching in the frame – the painting feels alive. This is tempered by the second and third works in the series, there are similar elements mirrored across all canvases but across the other pieces there are notably different inflections of style and weight to the painterly markmaking, harsh geometric abstraction justles against more frenetic descriptions of fabric and hair. The same imagery is breaking down across each piece, as other elements are drawn in.

In, The Hardest Day, the figures become more pronounced, the distortion lessened as their forms are shrouded under heavier impasto veils of indigo and violet. We can see the perspective of the checkerboard floor has shifted, a direct indication of how MFP is pulling and manipulating the inherent structures within the original image. The final piece in the series, The Day of Rebirth: Resurrection, appears the furthest removed from the original source, yet key compositional elements from the Ernst work remain; the central strigine figure exists among even more augmentation and different grammars of painting, and these seemingly incongruous elements jostle into a strange harmony. In a further divergence, there is a notable absence of the damaged framed image in the background. The implication in the original work, is that the central protagonists in have risen from the behind the frame and protruded into the foreground. However, MFP has corrupted this area with stark geometric monochrome lines – resembling a barcode, or other some other industrial mark, a gesture that encapsulates the central themes present within the series; a consideration on how our contemporary moment permits the mutability of images and histories, through the increasing presence of technology in our lives and how this is inherent within capitalist systems. By surveying modern art’s brief genealogies, Mr Fat Plastic deftly associates the uncanny miasma of late surrealism, with the latent dreamlike qualities of the present moment. By means of this appropriation and pastiche, there is a foregrounding of how our value of images, artworks, their histories, and distribution – has been manipulated by those same surreal forces.

Text by Alexander Harding