Against The Grain is a very apt title for Tom Palin’s work.
Everything about the man and his art do seem to do exactly what the title implies. Something of a rebel against the “expected”, Tom’s latest project is largely based around memory; something as Palin points out has the ability to be blurred and inconsistent yet very specific in their evocation of emotions.
Refusing to give any details but titles, the exhibition is a very tactile, evocative experience. There is however nothing prescriptive about the work, it is all left to subtlety and the imagination of the voyeur. Even the somewhat foreboding palate tease you and conjour emotions as oppose to spoon feed you with the artist’s ideals and own experiences.
The artist himself has a warmth and modesty that show through in his work, his relaxed pace and lack of pretension allow you to interprete a level of artistic integrity that cannot be learnt (or taught for that matter) – his quite, understated need to express himself is all in his paint and he really encourages you to look deep, to contemplate and to take away from his exhibition something personal to you as oppose to him.
He is also fascinated in the physicality of his art. He breaks with the more modernist avoidance of tactility and embraces it wholeheartedly; perceiving the object and tangibility of his work as equally important as the subject. He likes them small and places awareness of the paintings as an object. He explores the objectification and representation of his images and sees their physicality as more welcoming – Physical, layered and ambiguous. Some of the pieces are individual pieces, some are diptychs and triptychs, this however is intuitive – the gaps are important in the narratives, they are the parts of the story that we don’t know and allow ourselves to guess.
Thus leading us neatly back to the theme of memory: Something that can be so inprecise, blurred, exaggerated or altered, through his painting his own memories have filtered and have only increased in meaning via reflection. The Details are a product of reconstructed memory – a juxtaposition of very sharp things and very blurred things: A fragmented romanticism.
Please go and see this exhibition for yourself – It is a surreal, calming, contemplative experience that somehow improves and ripens with closer viewing.
Tom Palin: Against the Grain: A New Visuality Project is showing in According To McGee’s from 8 September to 24 September.