Whilst I usually only deploy my cunning linguistics on reviewing art primarily hosted on the universal gallery of the internet, Yack! decided to waste my talent and time by sending me along to an exhibit put on by Yack! co conspirator Jason Bowles. Going by the unsubtle moniker Jasons Haggard Faces the show served up exactly as advertised, a bunch of gnarly portraits in equal parts gut gurgling and gruesome. I arrived early and quickly lubricated myself for the evening ahead with some of the free wine on offer before setting about the gruelling task of reviewing the exhibit itself.
Whilst I have previously endorsed Jasons Haggard Faces in a digital fashion (you can read that review here), in the flesh and surrounded by the misinformed murmurings of the general public the paintings evolved for me quite an unappealing nature. JHF prides himself on his skill as an artist, attacking the exhibit with a multitude of mediums from spray paint to acrylics, stencil to biro, the man has a clear passion and skill. However, the show was lacking a sense of cohesion, it was riotous and chaotic which when ingested in small bursts as you would if you follow his instagram or facebook page, this concentrated dose left me feeling dizzy and nauseous.
I spend every day staring into the truly repugnant faces of the insipid fools that populate this fine earth and spending an evening fawning over the grotesque is not normally how I would choose to spend my time. If forced into an art social I would much rather sip my wine to the soundtrack of a softly plucked harp, being hand fed grapes by a boy servant and revelling in the majesty of Michaelangelo’s David or something of that ilk. Instead I found myself necking my wine ungraciously, gazing unfocused on these splatterings of madness and discontent.
The pieces of “art” on display were in and of themselves impressive, as mentioned before the man knows his way around a paintbox. However instead of bestowing upon the viewer a sense of refinement they flip the script and deliberately attack with projected revulsion. On the most part I find no real problem with this, any elicited response from the audience at least lifts many out of the robotic and mundane existence they no doubt spend every unfortunate breath trying to escape. In this sustained confinement however it quickly left me feeling dirty and claustrophobic. Not helped at all by the fact that one corner of the gallery was populated by a plinth topped by a bottle of what can loosely be described as wine. Reportedly fermented from berries the artist had found in a car park. Staring confused at my own reflection projected on the black and oozing liquid held within this vestibule I found myself guzzling the wine from my own cup even faster.
JHF paints deliberately and almost sarcastically hoping the viewer is jamming on the same distorted frequencies that his own mind state operates at. However forcefully trying to attune yourself to this cosmic force can leave you feeling queasy. There were a few paintings well worth their price tags, if only to rest easy in the fact that the rich idiot that bought it will spend the rest of his life failing to understand the concept behind the piece and being tormented by the heinous visage depicted therewith, but this could be said of any good piece of art I guess.
All in all the show was a farcical affair, like being beaten over the head repeatedly with a bludgeon still dripping with fresh paint. The exhibit had a narrative to the effect of highlighting the evil and ugly nature lurking behind supposed perfection in beauty standards. However for me it only engorged the part of me that truly and completely hates ugly things, which I consider Jason’s Haggard Portraits to be.
That I said I did enjoy how lifelike and almost hyper realistic the likeness of Prince Charles was, in context this amused me greatly.
An A for effort if not for the art on show itself. As always art remains highly subjective and you should all go and check out the work for yourselves to draw your own conclusions.
Words by Cuthbert Cunningham