27 February – 18 April 1998
I see painting as a way to think and I like the kind of things it allows me to think about...
Carroll Dunham, 1992
For his first solo exhibition in London, Carroll Dunham presented works from his powerful series of Integrated and Mound paintings (1991-92). Dunham has internalised and absorbed the calligraphic automatist line of Miro and Matta and the sexually charged imagery of de Kooning. Combining ancient pictographs with a cartoon shorthand and saturating the painting in psychedelic colour, Dunham’s unique visual language is employed to describe a non verbal area of emotional experience.
For Dunham, painting is an open-ended process through which the image of the painting is discovered. The Mound and the Integrated painting series developed out of different ways of representing a wave. The wave is an image which enabled Dunham to tap into a great deal of unaccessed imaginative material. In the Integrated paintings the wave mutates into a T-shaped limb sprouting from a mound; a kind of organic architectural scaffold mutating from volume to void and back again enlivening the surface of the work. Dunham attaches paint balls soaked with colour to enhance the coloured surface and intensify the emotional impact of the paintings. In the Mound series the wave has congealed into a more solid hill-like shape. In each painting the singular shape starts to accumulate a number of features - sprouting hair, ungainly tuberous appendages, slits and genital-like forms interrupt the surface.
Saturated in lurid colour the paintings are both urgent and extravagant and demand to be treated like sentient presence’s at once horrifying, funny and invested with emotional vulnerability.