Monday, 30 July 2012

Adam Bridgland // Happy, All Smiles

If you're in Aberdeen over the next few weeks, try and catch this show at Peacock Visual Arts.

Yes, it's a show by fellow Bridgland, Adam, in his first Scottish solo exhibition.  Hurrah for Bridglands!!

Adam's a print-maker and is showing three new editions of screenprints, but he also does sculptures and vinyl installations.  

His prints combine deceptively simple phrases and images that have exactly anticipated all the graphically retro images that are all part of the present mood of the moment.  Here's Adam's  work...

Adam Bridgland, Happy All Smiles (Limited Edition Screenprint, 2012)

 Adam Bridgland, Darling, This Holiday will Solve All Our Problems (Limited Edition Screenprint, 2012)

 Adam Bridgland, Safely, I Built This House For You and For Me (Limited Edition Enamel Plaque, 2009)

Superficially, they come out of the same sort of kitschy mould as this, which we've all seen on a million teatowels and mugs...

However, what Adam's work does is to exploit the gap between the expectations of the superficially nostalgic image with its up-beat text, and the reality of the day-to-day which lies beneath, where nothing is actually quite as rosy or as clear-cut.  

Thus Happy, All Smiles shows a beautiful bouquet, suggesting a loving gift and a secure relationship.  But by the combination of text and image, one undermines the other.  The flowers therefore instead become like a tribute to something that has died.  

Similarly, Darling, This Holiday Will Solve All Our Problems suggests a light-hearted cruise with a heroic-looking ship sailing along majestically.  However, closer inspection shows that it is sailing through rather choppy waters, and the awkward angle begins to suggest that it is in fact a fragile craft that, like the Titanic, might not be as invincible as it first looks.

So instead of merely representing the nostalgic image, as with the ubiquitous 'Keep Calm and Carry On', Adam is going beneath it, exploring the poignancy of it, using the words to take away the safety ties and the reassurance normally contained within the image.  There's humour of course, and it's very playful, but there's also a certain sharpness in the sadness of it, like watching Brief Encounter.

Also look out for Adam's show in Aldeburgh (I love Aldbeurgh, and I've got work in Thompson's Gallery there in the High Street).  It's at the Aldeburgh South Beach Lookout from August 10th-12th, so blink and you'll miss it!

Happy, All Smiles is at Peacock Visual Arts, 21 Castle Street, Aberdeen AB11 5BQ until September 8th.  For more information, go here.

For more information on the artist, go to Adam Bridgland's website.

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