JD Malat presents Ian Cumberland’s “presence in absence”
JD Malat Gallery is pleased to announce Presence in absence, a solo exhibition by Irish artist Ian Cumberland, from September 7 to October 5, 2020.
Born in Banbridge in 1983, Cumberland is best known for his hyperrealistic portraits of isolated subjects in detailed interiors, exploring themes of mass media culture, surveillance, and the notion of the human “me”. (top image: Ian Cumberland, Panopticon, 2019/20 Oil on linen canvas, 100 x 180 cm).
Presence in absence consists of installations that use portraits as part of a multi-part painting, establishing a dialogue between objects. Cumberland’s works involve an assemblage of theatrical objects, adding anomalous touches and unsettling atmospheres to mundane interiors, resulting in a heightened degree of realism. Subjects are caught in moments of escape from their psychological confinement, similar to that experienced by people during the pandemic. It is Presence in absence, a social commentary on a sociological crisis.
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Cumberland is meticulous in his choices – everything is precisely controlled from the color scheme, the outfits, the lighting to the ensemble. This staging and this organization are a commentary on our society, how we are manipulated to believe in lifestyles and material goods.
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Get the 2020 look (2020) demonstrates Ian Cumberland perfectly, containing text that details the cost of each element of the staged scene with the neon sign reflecting our image-saturated, commodity-driven world. The woman is surrounded by objects of capitalist desire – get the look, the dress, the Persian carpet. It is a command; we are told what we should wear and how we should live.
Behind her, the television shows a still image of an unidentifiable ravaged landscape, possibly caused by deforestation for the creation of materials, fashionable mass pollution, spurred by our insatiable desire to “have the look”. Reminiscent of Brecht and his theatrical sets, the individuals in Cumberland’s works are faced with a multitude of choices and possibilities and it is up to the viewer to decide what those choices will be. Although Cumberland begins the story, the audience ends it.
Cumberland’s genius shines through when he challenges conventional “painting” and produces something totally original and unique, transcending traditional painting as we know it and challenging representational strategies. Using paintings in a larger installation, Cumberland adds another layer through which the viewer, or voyeur, must engage with the complex subjects of his work.
“Meeting the work of Ian Cumberland is a particular and disturbing experience, as if the viewer had entered a ‘space’ and a ‘moment’ to which he was foreign. Positioned like an outsider, Cumberland’s multi-component painting series seems to offer a visual experience that sits somewhere between an invitation to listen and an involuntary moment of voyeurism, ”says David Campbell, writer and curator.
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Presence in absence explores different manifestations of “realism” by associating painting and installation. In doing so, Cumberland presents a very unique experience of the effects of mass media, culture and control on humanity’s self-concept.
Presence in absence
Cumberland’s work is part of the collections of the G2 Kunsthalle, Leipzig, Germany, Hildebrand Collection, Leipzig, Germany, Northern Ireland Civil Service Art Collection, Northern Ireland, National Self Portrait Collection of Ireland, Ireland, Office of public works, Ireland, State Art Collection, Ireland, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, Northern Ireland, Belfast City Hall, Northern Ireland, Queens University Belfast, Northern Ireland, and University of Ulster, Northern Ireland. He is the 2010 recipient of the Davy Portrait Award.
IAN CUMBERLAND: PRESENCE IN ABSENCE
SEPTEMBER 7 – OCTOBER 5, 2020
Exhibition opening hours: Monday to Saturday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
JD Malat Gallery, 30 Davies Street, Mayfair W1K 4NB