Hung in the gallery are 11 paintings, at once familiar, their scale mirroring the same ISO 216 paper sizes used globally to shape and tally visual information. They are dimensions that span realms public and private, urban and rural, mobile and static. Here, McLaughlin adopts them as a default for his linen panels and as a foil to aparticular, even unusual, use of paint. His engaging cast of techniquesand studied color revealan archaeology of mark-making in expanses where once something may have previously existed, but in McLaughlin’s workings, something new, or the potential of something new is unearthed. Imagery is dually asserted and obscured.
For example, in Air Poule, 2015 a hybridized version of the Air France logo, originally a winged horse with the tail of a fish, the horse has been replaced with the top half of a hen. More an animal of flight than a horse and perhaps better representative of an airline, yet due to its size and weight defunct to flying only a few meters off the ground.
Similarly, in Akbar al Baker, 2015, McLaughlin abbreviates and distorts the logo of Qatar Airways to ‘QA’, yet retains a colour scheme similar to the airline’s standard livery. The work is named after the formidable CEO of Qatar Airways, a leader in the new wave of refined, international travel currently being pioneered by Gulf carriers. In Etihad, 2015, McLaughlin has reversed the ‘E’ turning it into a crudely rendered number ‘3’ and painting it green. Moving away from aviation, but evidencing transit and migration in a different sense, in Demeter, 2015 McLaughlin takes the original logo of the German organic food standards authorising agency Demeter International, founded in 1928, and simply joins each letter in a painterly cursive typeface.
There is also an undercurrent of the absurd and incongruous displayed within these works. The painting Basler, 2015, a treatment of the well-known German fashion brand targeted at the mature woman, plays with the balance of the presentation. Additionally, the two Bullybong paintings, both 2015, depict bongs with Bully, the bull mascot from the now-defunct TV series Bullseye, as their base. It is in the fusion of these approaches that McLaughlin embraces the precariousness of the image.
Images courtesy of Laura Bartlett Gallery, London.
Contribution by Domenico de Chirico.
Ryan McLaughlin - TraffiQ
Laura Bartlett Gallery, September 17 - November 8