Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Peter Lamb

'Mon Dieu', Mixed Media on Canvas

Our understanding of history changes over time. Shifts in power, political upheavals, conflict, and philosophical ideas bring about greater understanding and awareness. This distance unfortunately has an inverse relationship to the collective sources we draw upon to validate these historical events. The adding to or painting over in Lamb’s works can be seen as an attempt to fill in the gaps left in the wake of this paradox, in much the same way historians, writers, documentists and recorders have done in the past. This creates an entanglement of information and disinformation that in its turn has led to a constant revaluation of history and the grand narratives said to underlie that history. Lambs paintings ask questions of history of the people that write it and the artists role with in it. Many of the paintings lamb chooses to rework are from a particular period when the artist relied almost solely on the patronage of the wealthy aristocracy. Lamb also sets ups a duality with present day practice; does the artist now (given that he has been freed from the tyranny of modernism) have any obligation to an idealist standpoint. Lambs paintings are littered with remnants from the past, stuffed animal heads are mounted on the surface, a ritualistic display, considered necessary to up hold a rigid class system that has its roots deeply planted in English history. The random and chaotic nature of these works, suggest an over turning of the established order not only socially and politically, but also creatively, they are tangible physical reminders of a past, a past that can be revaluated, misinterpreted, altered, distorted and even denied. Headless figures, ghosts and spectres permeate these paintings, and reminiscent of the apparition in Hamlet they reiterate, “remember me, remember me, remember me”. Remember History, a haunting testimony to the dangers inherent in adopting a philosophical attitude that disengages events from its broader context or gives precedence to a Hegelian theodicy which relegate events such as the massacres perpetrated by the allies’ war planes during the gulf war or the ethnic cleansing in Bosnia and Croatia as an in evitable scene played out in a historical play that we have to sit and watch but are powerless to do anything about.


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