‘Mondo Throb’ is a mise-en-scène in which a body of works have figuratively turned the gallery space into a night spot; revellers are immortalised in paintings, the traces of their dance steps left on the floor.
France-Lise McGurn’s latest exhibition has its genesis in an arrangement of archival material ranging from the film ‘9 ½ Weeks’ (1986) to cigarette card sets. These references have been translated into a visual and performative lexicon, and presented together with her wall and floor signature paintings, create a unique setting in which pastel colours direct the viewer’s eye through the space.
The overlapping of gender-ambiguous figures in some of the paintings, as in ‘Vitus’ (2016), recall images from a passage in Plato’s ‘The Banquet’. The mythical story places humans, spherical creatures with two heads and bodies, of three genders (male-male, female-female, and female-male) in a primeval state of eternal bliss as they are sensually satisfied. These powerful creatures represented a risk to the gods. And so Zeus decided to cut each person in two, condemning us to begin an instinctive quest for our other halves.
The intervention on the gallery floor are suggestive of a party that we are too late to join. McGurn’s painterly gestures become a form of script, scoring the space with brush strokes that appear repeatedly. The space is punctuated by a subtle sound work, a melodic pitch that can be also heard from the yard of the gallery, acting as background music for those in the smoking area during the private view. By pasting mint Pall Mall cigarettes into the mouth of some of the wall figures, McGurn refers to smoking as an intrinsic element of a night out and as a means for possessing time in a palpable way.
Love is a paradox. Its force, argues the philosopher Michael Hardt, derives from contradiction. On the one hand, love is an attachment: the strongest and most unshakeable relationship you can have with another person. On the other, love is an explosion: an event that marks you for life, an irrevocable division between then and now. McGurn’s painting style embodies the tension of love. For one thing, her paintings are an explosion of abstract colour with a pleasant palette that makes the images seem harmless. At the same time, the figurative brushes that formulate the figures are minimalist, wavy lines of vibrant colour, representing erotically charged scenes such as in ‘Puttanesca’ (2016).
Through the work, McGurn reflects upon gender, sexuality and public and private love: s/he can’t live without you; we can’t live without each other.