Something happened in 1950s America – a post-war acceleration of science, technology and a visceral sense of the very real possibility of other worlds. But there was also a creeping sense of unease in suburbia – a mistrust of technological advances – a malaise at the heart of consumerist culture, which led ultimately to the questioning of all normative behaviour during the 1960s. That 1950s twilight zone produced a blurring of realities and a quest for the imagined. Psychological drama became a key component, as things from other worlds were made real in Hollywood science fiction movies.
However this blurring of the lines of reality was already well established for half a century in painting as artists abandoned any sense of perspective and pursued a sense of otherworldliness and flatness.
The current work of Anne Hendrick at the Talbot Art Gallery revisits that time when the physical became indistinct. Green and pink moons, foreign planets hover in canvases but with a deliberate flatness and no depth of field. The natural world is here but in a carefully layered hidden way. Striations of delicately applied paint and faintly militaristic camouflage patterns (reminiscent of Paul Nash) obscure the unrevealed drama. They could be painted moments from 1950s movies – captured stills from some super-8 home-movies – ‘Bigfoot’ is lurking beyond those rock-like shadows or a spaceship has landed from some half-remembered sci-fi B-Movie. The soundtrack would include Theremins, detuned strings and fuzzy early electronica.
Jest by Anne Hendrick runs at the Talbot Gallery Studios until 22nd November
Photos by Dorota Borowa courtesy of Talbot Gallery.