Rob Sherwood | Totem


(A Totem is an object serving as the emblem of a family or group and often as a reminder of its ancestry).

The exhibition includes works from different ongoing series such as The White Palm Trees and it introduces a new series of enlarged abstractions he refers to as Blow Ups. Also present in the exhibition are fragments of the artist’s archive.

These new paintings continue Rob Sherwood’s investigations into the traditional values of painting (gesture and materiality) when met with a screen-centric and commodified visual culture. For example, the Blow Ups are carefully enlarged from small scale abstractions, the process of transforming them faithfully into larger works renders them representational, they become paintings of paintings.

In a work titled The Junksman’s Lament #2, a vibrant pink text asks "WHAT IS THIS VOICE?" it is taken from one of many such enigmatic emails the artist collected from an institutions Junk Mail folder. The emails were written by a person attempting to contact Governmental and Institutional offices to express their opinions about society. This search for a human trace, a felt experience amongst often impersonal means of communication, is what drives Sherwood's collection of information and what leads to the creation of his images.

The elegant and delicately painted The White Palm Trees that appear throughout the exhibition were inspired by posters of tropical islands he saw stuck above computer desktops in an Office. They provide a distinctly gentle counterpoint to the Blow Ups: “To look at the paintings in question, there is a sense in which each image is endowed with a dream-like aura. After all, these are not paintings of palm trees as objects so much as paintings of palm trees as ideas, ‘images of images’ whose object has been lost. […] It is as though something as immaterial and as pure as light were being debased, made sticky and abject”.
(Rye Dag Holmboe ‘Filthy Lucre – New Paintings by Rob Sherwood’ – The White Review, Feb 2015)