PRETTY HURTS Solo Pop Up Show 2017
Disposable desire is something that is fleeting and seemingly insignificant and yet we place great emphasis on such moments of lust and envy. Carl Hopgood confronts the viewer with such impermanent instances within the setting of Bedroom 203 in the Groucho Club. By capturing the transient nature of desire he makes it permanent and gives it an intrinsic value. In Disposable Desire, Hopgood draws attention to these images of desire in our society and subverts notions of value and kitsch in a fetishistic manner - whether it is the back pages of a men’s magazine, night club dancers or trophy beer cans.
As a young boy, Hopgood visited the acropolis in Athens, a grand monument of antiquity and subsequent British intervention. The sculpture and friezes from this icon of a past classical era represent value, history and the ideal male form. Hopgood’s work recalls these themes by challenging notions of taste and decency, while also exploring the concept of the body beautiful often in fragmented form. Just as the smooth precision of Greek sculpture belies the dramatic scenes portrayed, Hopgood too plays on notions of purity and value in work that draws from his personal and professional life.
Installation Shot Bedroom 203 at The Groucho Club London 2009 ( Sleeping Figure Sculpture/Film installation) On door Jack Pierson Drawing 2006
Throughout Hopgood’s career he has appropriated and re-imagined pop and underground culture in a variety of different ways. In Fuck Love two dismembered clenched fists in plaster cast are displayed with an image of hands tattooed ‘FUCK’ and ‘LOVE’ over knuckles projected onto them. These antithetical ideas clearly evoke jail tattoos of LOVE and HATE. The aggressive stance of the clenched fist draws upon Hopgood’s past experience with bullying. However the inscribed words confront this provocatively, by subverting a violent gesture with one that can be seen to recall the sexual act of fisting. This apathetic perspective towards the definition of such charged and complex terminology also plays with Melanie Klein’s psychoanalytic concept of the part object. The disembodied nature of the fist can be seen to recall the infant’s relation to the exterior world, which can be felt as comforting but can appear aggressive. Hopgood is confronting such ideas of seduction and aggression in society and personal relationships.
‘Fucking love’ as an ethos epitomises the concept of a disposable desire, and a disenchantment with the world of sex – something that is associated with nightlife and gay subculture. This makes the Soho bedroom setting of the exhibition all the more intriguing. In this domestic space Hopgood presents glimpses of nightlife in a melancholic fashion that contrasts with the art’s graphic content. Works like his neon sign Fuck Love/Love Fuck, and the projections of Go-Go dancers, recall the superficial, beautiful and intoxicating nature of night life, that is also arresting in it’s truthful representation. Nude figures from this environment come to be reconsidered as emblems of an epoch, like those of Classical antiquity. In doing so he presents the viewer with a world of sparkle, smoke and mirrors.
The transitory nature of the show plays into the illusory nature of Hopgood’s work, which literally plays with the idea of existence, appearance and reality through the practical use of projection. He creates a liminal space for the viewer; one that exists in a state of transference from reality to dream and back again. The projection on solid plaster forms, which in itself is an index of another figure, only becomes ‘alive’ when the projection is present. In the fists we witness the contrast between the supposed solid rendering of a human form in a ghostly manner and the reality of this artifice, which is also evocative of the ghost-like nature of hotel rooms.
By placing a spotlight upon objects Hopgood thereby places an importance upon them, a value. The fists become sacred objects that are to be admired, just as he displays beer cans and celebrity stained wine glasses in a manner similar to trophy paraphernalia. Hopgood blurs the lines between value and taste, by presenting often shocking and contemporary subject matter in classical terms, just as the non-gallery setting challenges the norm of the white cubed gallery space. Like much art that embraces commercial aspects of society, Hopgood is attempting to reveal the core essence of a diminishing modern life in a time of recession. Just as Greek statues of antiquity would have been originally painted in brash primary colours at odds with their pure alabaster present appearance, Hopgood reveals the light and the dark, the past and the present of a lifestyle of lust and aspiration. In ‘Disposable Desire’ the impermanent medium of the work and the temporary nature of the exhibition, recreates the fleeting nature of desire and etches it into the memory of the viewer permanently.