Brendan Jon Philip Necronomicon Glue Gallery
Upon entering Brendan Jon Philip̈́'s Necronomicon I felt magneticized by the room's chaotic ambience, which offered a poignant study of the process of painting. Featuring a selection of paintings and small sculptures, Necronomicon sharply reminds us of own mortality and physical decay, through the repeated motif of the skull. The image of the skull pertains multiple connotations and Philip's works references his exploration of the associtaions which linger in use of such iconography. The title of the show Necronomicon takes its name from the famous fictional grimorie of forbidden lore and magical rites by horror and science fiction writer H.P. Lovecraft in 1924. When translated from greek it means "an image of the law of the dead".
Engrained within each of the pictorial planes was the presence of chaos, yet this chaos was always subdued an threatened by a sense of order. Each work appears tactile and abstractive, with ghost-like traces of form suggesting a balance between such opposites. Babel (2012) submerges the eye's gaze into a map of his reductive process of painting. Babel is both an aggressive an soft painting, yet as much as it tries to cover its traces it also reveals its past. There are traces of form hidden beneath a cyclonic assault of paint to uncover a disquieting abstractive work. One could spend hours searching through its layers which are overlaid in part by a varnished quicentro of paint and the appearance of untouched canvas. Time (takes a cigarette) (2012) highlights the confrontational treatment of paint, as disparate strands of bright colour smear the surface of a skull. The skull is formed in a manner which suggests both a correlation between the space in which it was created, None gallery, and the non-space in which it occupies, the Glue gallery space. Both building's are victims of Dunedin's urban decay and yet also function as building's being renewed again by purpose, as factories of creation, which are designed to interact with the community. The fluidity of Glue's space means the works are unable to be avoided, yet each work warrants endless absorbtion. Although many work through the space to access other areas of the building, each work in Necronomicom commands attention and the space in which it lies undermines the museological model of the curation and viewing of art.
Each of the found canvases were painted vertically, enabling the development of Philip's process of chance to be fostered. The trial and error process by which he works is informed by Philip's interest in relational dialectic theory and process. Relational dialectic theory is a communication pattern with an unceasing interplay between contrary or opposing tendencies, such as guitar feedback. For in guitar feedback the sound unexpectedly moulds together in discordant vibrations. This perfectly describes Philips' process, yet his work is also innately a by-product of gravity. The reality of gravity means that while Phillips' shapes the paint to the edge of the surface, painting vertically allows for the shape of the paint to become something unexpected. This results in the dripping of paint. Using a tool kit of pastels, acrylic, turps, pencil and sometimes varnish Philips' works on as many as several at a time. This heavy production level means that some works are rich and tactile, while others remain seemingly ghostly and minimal, yet all appear effortlessly polished and thoughtfully rendered. Monsterism (2012) and The Divine invasion (2012) feature menacing animals, which would sleep in our nightmares. Monsterism is reminiscent of Rohan Whellans' He with Glands of Wasp (2009), which featured in the recent The Obstinate object contemporary New Zealand sculpture show at City Gallery. It also recalls Francis Bacon' s Pope I – Study after Pope Innocent X by Velázquez (1951).
Such a fixation upon morbid iconography, at such a high level of production, signals a liberation from the exhaustive, meditative and philosophical act of painting. The repeated use of the skulls harbours the sensation of decay and mortality. The sensational affects from such an experience affects the way we view our own flesh. This was most potently gestured in each of the shrunken neolithic skulls, carved from jibstop. In the centre of space rested a plated display of these skulls, displayed appetizingly like little cakes on a chopping board. Never was the presence of death so ardently felt.