Only Fans – Richard Patterson

Milky celadon streaks across linen canvases

Richard Patterson, OnlyFan, 2022
Map Unavailable
Mar 11 - Apr 15
09:00 - 19:00

Timothy Taylor Gallery

In the rapt swirls of Patterson’s paintings there is an embodying ritual at work. He brings the flat mechanistic reproduction of people to life through brushwork, through the act of painting, or overpainting. There’s a nice mental exercise here in tracing the attention of the painter through the echoes of his (ahem) hand, and in doing so reconnecting with the overarching concept; humble humanity. As you’re seeing it now, understood through Jpegs, one imagines the effect folds on itself in a negative way. We’re not seeing the physical image. We’re missing the way light plays on paint to give depth, focus and flow, so then what? On paper, the activity seems reductive and somewhat glib, whereas in front of the work we have the invitation to study our distance and ideally to make a real connection – to become part of the enacted ritual. Patterson once again brings the voyeurism implicit in the objectification of others through mental imagery into focus here, it’s not a new concept by any means, but his take on it suggests a new view on the claustrophobia of our proxied condition.


Richard Patterson, The French Lesson, 2021

Richard Patterson, The French Lesson, 2021

Exhibition Notes:

Only Fans consists of thirteen small-scale paintings that draw the viewer into a bravado performance of gestural painting, a return to the essential. Milky celadon streaks across linen canvases, a carnal palette of rose and ochre in glistening impasto that is, in one sense, a rejection of digital imagery and embrace of the physical, the passionate, the hard work of heartfelt painting. Yet Patterson’s evocation of primal sensuality is wrapped in layers of alienation that suggest the numbing effects of searching for status and sexuality online. While the shapes of lost loves have recurred in Patterson’s work since the nineties, her image is bound in the paradox of virtual reality: a repository of longing and distance.
Richard Patterson, Way Hey and Up She Rises, 2022

Richard Patterson, Way Hey and Up She Rises, 2022

Patterson initially rose to fame as a Young British Artist in the 1990s, with Damien Hirst and others, for his polished, ironic style of photorealist paintings, which glossed on postmodern consumption and Gen X nihilism by recreating kitsch photographs and advertisements. Yet while earlier works reflected the spectacle of mass-produced images, in the tradition of Richard Hamilton and Gerhard Richter, Patterson’s new abstractions suggest that we have already been colonised by digital technology.
Shadows of women appear amid abstract swirls. In Way Hey and Up She Rises (2022), the rosy outline of a lounging woman might refer to Gustave Courbet’s The Woman in the Waves (1868). ‘What I’m really trying to do is create a highly controlled situation in which something uncontrolled happens,’ Patterson notes his energetic painting process, which sees him paint wet-into-wet for up to ten hours at a time. The sublimated images of women recall Willem de Kooning’s late abstract paintings of swooping pink and blue curves, as if, Patterson suggests, the shape of the artist’s wife Elaine was burned into his mind.
Richard Patterson, The Poet Gardener, 2019

Richard Patterson, The Poet Gardener, 2019

In contrast, the ghostly outlines of Patterson’s female figures allude to the anonymity of data as much as the passion for the body. For example, OnlyFan (2022), a tongue-in-cheek reference to the online porn website OnlyFans, sees the arched backside of a woman rise in a whirlpool of brushstrokes. ‘We become composites of data more than organic human beings,’ Patterson says. ‘The new world order is here. If life is lived online, even sex becomes a proxy for the thing it once was, an imitation of reality to be recorded and uploaded. It becomes an advert for something that never happened. My paintings are the opposite. They’re visceral, performative, concrete.’
Richard Patterson, OnlyFan, 2022

Richard Patterson, OnlyFan, 2022

Born in the UK in 1963, Richard Patterson graduated from Goldsmiths College in 1986. He was included in Damien Hirst’s renowned Freeze, Surrey Docks, London (1988), as well as Sensation: Young British Artists from the Saatchi Collection, Royal Academy of Arts, London, UK; Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum für Gegenwart, Berlin, Germany; Brooklyn Museum of Art, New York, USA (1997-00).

Other notable exhibitions include The Rowan Collection: Contemporary British & Irish Art, Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin, Ireland (2002); Painting Pictures, Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg, Germany (2003); Nexus Texas, Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, Texas, USA (2007) and Attention to Detail, curated by Chuck Close, the FLAG Art Foundation, New York, USA (2007).

Richard Patterson, Dog, 2022

Richard Patterson, Dog, 2022

Patterson has had solo exhibitions at Anthony d’Offay Gallery, London (1997); James Cohan Gallery, New York, USA (1999 and 2002); Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas, Texas, USA (2000), Timothy Taylor, London (2005, 2008, 2013 and 2021); the Goss-Michael Foundation, Dallas, USA (2009) and Timothy Taylor, New York (2018).

His work is held in public and private institutions worldwide, including the Arts Council, London; British Council, London; the Denver Art Museum, Denver, CO; The Rowan Collection, Northern Ireland; and the Saatchi Collection, London. SFMoMA, San Francisco, CA; Southampton Museum and Art Gallery, Southampton; and Tate Gallery, London.
Richard Patterson
Only Fans
11 March – 15 April 2023
15 Bolton Street, London W1J 8BG

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