on view in the gallery
30 September – 21 October
False Monuments is an exhibition of recent paintings and drawings by David Eastwood in which objects appear partially withdrawn from view. Variously fragmented, veiled, or shown from behind, the enigmatic forms featured in these images withhold details and obstruct full visibility.
In the painting Verso, a portrait bust adopts the pose of the rückenfigur, an art historical motif in which the back of a contemplative figure is seen before a view in the distance. This pictorial device typically acts as a surrogate for the viewer external to the image. In Eastwood’s painting, however, the rückenfigur denies access. Instead of inviting the viewer into the image, its ossified and non-sentient bearing resists empathy as it faces a shadowy void. The painting is based on a 3D digital scan of the artist’s own head and shoulders, resulting in an altered physiognomy that transforms the body into a strange monument.
Digitally manipulated 3D models form the basis for all the works in this exhibition. The objects pictured are virtual, detached from the physical world despite their semblance of material solidity. They occupy a simulated realm of infinite spaces, jarring colours, and illusory patterns, undergoing a protracted process of mediation from source to image. In Pedestal, for instance, we see the base support of a missing sculpture, the source of which is a plaster studio prop reproduced from a plaster bust in a Danish museum, which is in turn a copy of a marble head from the classical Roman era held in the Louvre. The torso and pedestal were a later addition introduced to the plaster copy in Denmark, while the Louvre work is itself thought to be a fragment copied from a lost equestrian bronze statue from the Hellenistic period. Such a convoluted pedigree characterises the contested histories frequently associated with statuary from the past.
This exhibition reflects the precarity of monuments as contentious objects and conveys a sense of loss, disconnection and distortion inherent in relics. Staged in visually discordant contexts and seemingly dislodged, hidden, or cropped to varying degrees, these phantasmic effigies do not correspond with authenticity, appearing instead as incongruous figments; implausible and artificial.