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Ben McLaughlin: Ex Libris
April 8 @ 11:00 am - 7:00 pmFree
March 13, 2021-April 24, 2021 | Gallery Hours: Hours: Tu, W, F, Sa 10-5:30, Th 11-7
Hosfelt Gallery is pleased to present new work by London-based Painter Ben McLaughlin.The tiny and evocative oil-on-panel paintings in McLaughlin’s third solo exhibition at Hosfelt Gallery were mostly made in 2019 and 2020, and they mark a time of global uncertainty, tension and precariousness. Yet the London-based painter’s intimate, often dream-like tableaus are a reflection of the slower, more interior-focused lives many of us have found to be the flip-side of pandemic shelter-in-place.
With the technical facility of a Dutch master and a muted palette, McLaughlin creates eccentrically cropped, ambiguous scenes that are drawn from childhood memories of growing up in a home he describes as more “like a collage, with books and papers everywhere” than a flat in London. He considers them “chronicles of the last century.” And though they do not romanticize or pine for a “better time,” they are unquestionably about memory: both its persistence and its instability.
Recognizing that books summon memories, McLaughlin titles the paintings in this exhibition after books in his parents’ extensive library. But the pairing of book title and painting is randomly assigned and intentionally unrelated to subject matter. This disconnect between title and image allows the work to hover in a zone of continually shifting meaning. Often simultaneously bucolic and slightly ominous, McLaughlin’s imagery, in conjunction with his appropriated titles, conjures an open-ended, multivalent narrative that is particular to the viewer.
Additionally, some works appear to fade at the edges, or have incongruent blotches of paint blocking out a portion of the scene. These function as interruptions in the visceral feel of a recollection, pointing to the unreliability of memory, like the sharp intrusion of doubt when retelling a past incident. And yet, despite the insistent uncertainty in all of the work, a quiet serenity persists.
Hosfelt Gallery, 260 Utah Street, San Francisco