Pontone Gallery presents an exhibition of new paintings by this long-established and critically-acclaimed artist. This is his first one-man show at the elegant new space in London’s Soho. Head’s work explores an unfixed world of allusion and suggestion, where images elide and meld into each other. He deploys a symphonic array of masterfully-handled colour and gestural brushwork to conjure compelling stories out of a personally-significant iconography.
The pictures have their origins in drawings of figure and landscape, which are also on display. These initial motifs are jumping-off points. Translated into oil paint, they suggest more, associated imagery, which is, in turn, processed and transformed by the act of painting. This intuitive and painterly approach, part of a studio practice not reliant on photographs, makes for a fluent and richly-expressive statement open to nuance and subtlety of interpretation. Head does not supply a fixed image. What one experiences particularly in both the form and content of the work is a sense of metamorphosis. The paintings are in a state of flux, a virtue, which allows meaning to be a sophisticated act of collaboration with the viewer.
Clive Head’s paintings are loaded with all kinds of symbol, quotation and reference, churned into a plethora of content. He employs fragments of autobiographical memory, eroticism, folk story, quotes from classical myth, and history to make fractured and splintered images. The compositions call to mind, in part, Cubism and German Expressionism; hints of the Neue Sachlichkeit lurk in his agglomerations of naked form. Equally, one can find oblique correspondences to old masters such as Titian. Such referring abounds; each picture calls to a chorus of correlations. This is a painter well versed in the history of art and ideas, unafraid of making diverting and various connections and recombinations.