For his first solo exhibition with Mercer Chance Gallery, Jake Garfield will be showing a selection of works on paper, made since his graduation from the Royal College of Art in the summer of 2016.
Garfield adopts the traditional printmaking processes of lithography, monoprint and wood-cut to explore the relationship between images and reality in contemporary life. His subjects, largely drawn from cinema, are the masks of the everyday: beards being shaven; make-up being applied; faces being distorted and reflected through screens, frames and mirrors.
The show’s title is a reference to the Tom Stoppard play of the same name, in which the boundary between fact and fiction, play and reality is constantly questioned. In this exhibition, sub-realities of mirrors or pictures-within-pictures exist as a reminder of the illusory nature of the work, as does the stretching, cropping or doubling of the image. With borders that are neither part of or outside the image, what is real in these worlds is constantly shifting - yet there is a tension between these alienating elements and the warmth of the artist’s hand in creating these worlds.
With works ranging in scale from matchbox-sized monotypes to a wood cut 2 metres in length, The Real Thing expands on the processes developed by Garfield with master printers Jim Reid (Gemini G.E.L.) and Maggie Lomelli (Gray Area Editions) while on a residency in El Segundo Museum of Art, California in 2015. To make the monotypes and lithographs, Garfield imitates industrial ‘CMYK’ printing processes through meticulous drawing, building up an image through layers of semi-transparent colour. The result is something that is both personal and distant, intimate and cold, real and not.
About The Artist
Jake Garfield has exhibited in the London, Brighton, Edinburgh, Los Angeles, New York and Antwerp. He is the recipient of several awards including the Printmaker’s Council Award for his MA show at the Royal College of Art in 2016 and the Printmaking Prize on graduation of the Royal Drawing School’s post-graduate Drawing Year in 2013.
Recent residencies include Rush Arts, New York (July 2017), Dumfries House, Ayrshire (September 2016 & September 2017) and El Segundo Museum of Art, California (July- September 2015).
Garfield lives and works in London. www.jakegarfield.co.uk
The self-portrait is not merely a convenient practice subject, or an exercise in narcissism. By confronting one’s own image, the painter confronts an issue at the very heart of representation: the balance between observation and invention.
Even a supposedly 'straight-forward' or 'truthful' observational self-portrait reveals much about its maker through a myriad of small - often unconscious - choices made during the process.
Other artists may choose to acknowledge the interior, fictional or performative aspect of the self.
And yet, whether seemingly observed or invented, can we ever be sure of what is a mask, and what is 'real'?
"There's no art, to find the mind's construction in the face"
"False face must hide what the false heart doth know"
Who do you side with; the benevolent King, who trusts others, and his own ability to read them, or the scheming usurper, who comes to know and exploit the falsity of appearances?
Perhaps both are right: appearances can be deceptive, but even a seasoned deceiver reveals more than they know.
In this exhibition, we present self-portraits by 14 contemporary artists, including paintings, drawings and multimedia works. Though varied in style and approach, they all demonstrate that the self-portrait is not as simple as a reflection in the mirror.