The Pomp of Circumstances solo exhibition - Press Release
The Pomp of Circumstances presents a series of works that operate on the understanding that belief systems – be they philosophical, ideological or religious – are largely based on a labyrinth of accidents, mistranslations, pseudo-scientific reasoning and dogmatic entrapment.
Employing the tools of polemical hindsight and sceptical foresight, the drawings and etched panels present us with a variety of curious scenarios; London’s new skyscraper the Shard frozen in Friedrich’s Sea of Ice, gold foundations of long-forgotten buildings unearthed on urban wasteland, a utilitarian block built on top of a Mayan temple, the USA’s Pentagon imagined in the form a Roman dodecahedron – a small hollow object found at various sites around Europe which no-one has ever definitively concluded the purpose of. With multiple references to apocalyptic prophecies and absurd theories, the exhibition pays homage to these seemingly inconsequential components of civilization and insists that they are of paramount importance to a freethinking society. How does one, for example, correlate their disapproval of the theory that the second coming of Jesus Christ will commence upon the slaughter of a perfect red heifer (an endeavour underway as we speak) – with any other mainstream and accepted phenomenon of similar implausibility? Far from being ridiculed, these notions that may at first appear obscure or even laughable, should in fact be championed for the crucial role that they play in how we question the world about us. Without them there would be no bridge to cross in order to the question those ideas and concrete beliefs that are in dire and constant need of interrogation. As the philosopher Soren Kierkegaard pointed out, no rational faith can be built without a significant element of doubt.
The complexity of the works themselves plays a crucial role in their narrative; one gets the impression that every detail is essential to the perception and understanding of the whole. The pencil drawings seek to lay all the evidence on the table; every window, brick and garbage chute is presented for the scrutiny of the observer. The idiosyncratic nature of the etched panels – consisting of etchings on primed wood, over which oil paint is layered – appears to be a necessary product of the marriage between a resonance of the traditional etching process and the artist’s insistence on the originality of the object. The works imply that the relationship between the master-copy and the print is similar to that of the man and his reflection in a mirror; the original must exist in its genuine state in order for it to be fully grasped. This technique has something reminiscent of a scribe, laboriously recording every detail so that the complete story is preserved in case it is called into question in the future. Indeed the process highlights the eternal conundrum of the quest for knowledge; the more answers we have about a certain event, the more questions arise. There is a preoccupation with teleological discourse in the series, in that the subject of each image appears to exist for the sake of a particular end. Even the colourful geometrical forms that intrude upon various scenes, seek to remind us that though the garden may be beautiful, there will always be those that try to ascribe some logic and order to the fairies at the bottom.
Qualifications and training
- 2012 MA Fine Art Degree (Distinction), Wimbledon College of Art, Wimbledon, London
- 2008 BA hons Contemporary Art Practice (First Class), Leeds University, Leeds, W. Yorkshire
- 2012 The Pomp of Circumstances by Chris Agnew, Nancy Victor Gallery, 6 Charlotte Place, London, W1T 1SG
- 2011 Royal Academy of the Arts' Summer Exhibition, Royal Academy of the Arts, London
- 2010 London Calling Exhibition, Ideas Generation, Brick Lane, London
- 2010 By Appointment, Institute of Contemporary Art, London
Competitions, prizes and awards
- 2010 Saatchi's New Sensations (Shortlisted), House of the Nobleman, Cornwall Terrace, Regents Park, London
- 2010 Jerwood Drawing Prize (Shortlisted), Jerwood Charitable Foundation, Jerwood Space, London