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'Metatopia', Nick Fox

Circular painting of a figure lying under a tree

2009, Acrylic and ink on panel, 120 x 120 cm

Artist's statement

Behind the reflective surfaces of my mirrored paintings hide a labyrinth of disparate and sometimes conflicting meanings, a rubble of distinct and unrelated signifiers, simultaneously clear and elusive. My paintings are camouflaged as decorative objects or planes of uninflected colour. They draw upon Neoclassicism, Victorian visual culture and sub-cultural symbology to reveal imagery from contemporary pornography that defies the viewers initial expectation of an encounter with such seductive objects.

Metatopia is part of a series of works inspired by floriography, the Victorian cultural phenomenon which used flowers as tokens of romantic longing, commitment or rejection to communicate hidden or forbidden pleasures. I am drawn to the intensification of desire that comes with secrecy and taboo, and playfully invert and personalise the artifice of this fin de sicle language to create elusive narratives and unsustainable utopias.

The mirror-like polished panels are carefully built up over periods of up to 18 months, through a lengthy process of layering of vaporous acrylic colour with erotic and floral drawings. These idylls are often rendered in dark and muddy colours that, along with my painting process, create a toxic fog, an Eden after the Fall, one where innocence has been banished. (From 'Postmodernism or The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism' by Frederic Jameson, 1991)


Born in South Africa in 1972, Nick Fox attended Liverpool John Moores University 1992-95 and the Royal Academy Schools London 1998-2001. He lectures at Newcastle University. Exhibitions include 'Vanitas' (curator Max Presneill) Raid Projects Los Angeles 2003, and in London 'This Longing' The Drawing Gallery 2006, 'Jerwood Contemporary Painters' Jerwood Space 2007, 'Salon 2007: New British Painting' (curator Flora Fairbairn) 319 Portobello Road. Solo projects include 'Unveiled' (with Francis Picabia) MOCA London 2006, 'Phantasieblume' C4RD London 2009 and Vane Gallery Newcastle 2010. His 2009/10 residency at Sunderlands National Glass Centre developed 'The Longing Archive', exploring longing, loss and unrequited desire.