Cooke Latham Gallery are pleased to present By day, but then again by night a solo exhibition by London based artist Johnny Izatt-Lowry. An accompanying text by Rachel Snider is available here.
Izatt-Lowry looks at the world from a place of remove. With each of his paintings there is a dream-like quality that implies we may have seen it before. His subjects are often quotidian; a bird, a log, a field. Things we “know” but which under his direction constantly elude us through their ambiguous materiality.
A chair floats on a powder pink background. The image is weirdly confrontational, the foreshortening eerily perfect, the edges of the subject claustrophobically close to the edge of the canvas. Despite the attention to detail and the meticulous rendering of the wood’s grain, the chair is impersonal. More than that it has an unreal quality; not so much a chair as the idea of a chair.
Composed of various elements from google searches, stock image databases and the artist’s imagination Izatt-Lowry’s paintings are exercises in making the familiar feel unfamiliar. The result is a fabricated world, an unplaceable location hovering somewhere between our own surroundings and the digital realm but belonging to neither. In By day, but then again by night the passage of time is suggested. A vast field of stylised flowers is viewed by day and then again etched by moonlight. Time is self consciously applied rather than known, and instead of offering an anchor to the images leaves them adrift in the viewers imagination.
Figures appear in the paintings. Often depicted in the dark and with the heads cropped from the images they lack all of the insignia by which they could be defined as portraits becoming instead the generalised depiction of a stilled action; an inert hand smoking, a pencil poised over a page. Even the ‘self portrait’ series have the anonymity of Izatt-Lowry’s still lives. Filmic in their quiet intensity they are also self consciously aware of the history of painting, both genres entering the composite pool of references which both defines them and ensures their anonymity.
In many ways Izatt-Lowry’s layered compositions are echoed by the laborious process by which they are made. Layers of dry pigment and pastel are rubbed into the surface of the crepe fabric, the image becoming ingrained within the material rather than sitting comfortably on its surface. Initially easy to read the paintings deny classification; questioning instead what an image is and how it exists in our collective consciousness.