Tall Grass (Expert Pruning In Ethiopia)
28 February – 11 April 2014
Josh Lilley is thrilled to present London based artist Nicholas Hatfulls first show at the gallery.
Hatfull's work reflects encounters in casual dining environments, forcefully repurposing scavenged motifs in stark compositions. The layers of gourmet food-to-go's understated yet overwhelming presence are sensitively opened out for interpretation, with far-reaching associations evoked. Working in machined relief sculpture, packaging design and silkscreens, Hatfull's work transplants material from different graphic realms, both ubiquitous and esoteric.
The exhibition examines the gulf between the fine-tuned artifice of coffeehouse retail in London and its product's origins. Polyurethane sculptures of a coffee cup lids interior spaces are housed in relief wood panels, whose contours stylise fringes of exotic vegetation. A silkscreen shows a giraffe sculpted from aubergines. Custom sandwich cartons are peppered with idiosyncratic designs. Ultimately an exchange is proposed by Hatfull whereby coffeehouse packaging is re-wilded in the Ethiopian Highlands. Metaphysical tangents to his subjects are explored further in offbeat essays, wherein an accompanying vinyl wall text pursues associations hinted at in these works to absurd conclusions.
It is also noticeable that the features of the coffee shop decorative hardwood panels, takeaway coffee lids and sandwich cartons have dreamed themselves into strangely lyrical relationships. The image of a car fashioned from bread, lemon and cress has been silkscreened onto an outsize sandwich carton and trapped between two layers of a relief panel, apparently starting to determine the profiles routed into the surface. Appearing in several works, these bread cars seem to be motoring off to somewhere more mysterious.
Continuing a preoccupation with food packaging and brand identity, the exhibition builds on formats developed over the last two years. It moves beyond an intuitive reverie responding to the artist's immediate surroundings and into wider considerations. Compelled by the absurd distillation of the relationship between coffee retailer and country of origin into nuggets of promotional illustration, the exhibited pieces are subtly expressive reformulations of the retail environment.
Nicholas Hatfull (b. 1984 in Tokyo) lives and works in London. Hatfull graduated from the Royal Academy Schools in 2011 and was the Sainsbury scholar in Painting and Sculpture, British School at Rome, 2011–12. Previous solo exhibitions include ORSO River Grave (No Rush Before Dawn), Margini Arte Contemporanea, Massa, 2013, Solo River Grave, Peles Empire, London, 2012 and Ignorant with the Suncream (Seafroot Delivery), Karsten Schubert, London, 2009. Selected group shows include Pre-pop to Post-human: Collage in the Digital Age, curated by Isobel Harbison, Hayward Touring, Hatton Gallery, Newcastle, 2014, Open Heart Surgery, Moving Museum, London, 2013, Something New, Josh Lilley, London, 2012, DAprès Giorgio, curated by Luca lo Pinto, Fondazione Giorgio e Isa de Chirico, 2012, Re-generation, MACRO, Museum of Contemporary Art, Rome, 2012, and Newspeak: British Art Now, Saatchi Gallery, London, 2010.