Des Lawrence

Jim Marshall, 2018

Enamel on Aluminum

29 × 48.5 cm


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Artwork
Description

Lawrence relaborates in contemporary terms the genre of portraiture, which for centuries has been put in service of the memory post-mortem. However, Lawrence’s portraits do not, as was the case in the past, adorn the body of the person represented with signifiers such as sword, scepters, or pearl earrings; but the objects or brands which better help to identify the deceased, often having surpassed them in notoriety.

The sixties were swinging. The owner of a drum shop, attempting to fulfill the requests of certain guitarist-friends, invented an amplifier for guitars: the Jim Marshall. The brand has been a leading industry player ever since. In this painting Lawrence remembers this iconic figure of the music industry.

A display of well-staged amps of various brands for the backdrop for two gleaming red and black models showing off with letters galvanised in aluminium the famous name of their inventor. The painting with its vivid and attractive enamels recalls the window of a shop. The memory of a dead body is metonymically replaced, in our post-fordist, consumerist society by the goods he invented.

In a society dominated by the worship of goods, this painting seems to suggest, even post-mortem one will be remembered for what they owned in life, or as in the case of Jim Marshall, for what one created. There is no ‘rest in peace’, every one of us will forever belong to the market, immortalised in our shining objects.

About
the artist


Des Lawrence (b. 1970) studied at Glasgow School of Art and Goldsmiths College. Selected shows include 
The London Open at the Whitechapel Gallery, London and REALLY?, Curated by Beth Rudin deWoody at the Wilding Cran Gallery, Los Angeles. Lawrence was awarded the British School in Rome’s Abbey Scholarship in 2005. He lives and works in London.

Lawrence’s practice is varied, comprising of painting, drawing, text and installation. He derives his principal guiding theme from current newspaper obituaries, making his artworks into memorials to the lately departed. The artist conceives of his work as a form of ‘history painting’, a much-neglected in the field of contemporary art. His works have the precision and fidelity of a painting by Delaroche or Gérôme, but none of the frozen aspect. Lawrence’s interest is in the passage of time, in the humanity of loss and the lost, not reviving a cryogenically frozen past for the viewer.

The artist has noted that he is ‘unnaturally fixated upon the microscopic subtlety of a surface’, another parallel to the neo-Grec painters whom Baudelaire characterised as the ‘school of pedants’. However, for Lawrence, this surface does not represent intellectual clarity but rather our myopic tendencies: our desire to see no further than what we expect.

The artist has previously stated his initial desire to be neutral and repetitive in his tributes to the deceased, like the macabre journalism on which his work is based. Indeed, his approach is rather editorial: citing On Kawara’s Date Paintings, Lawrence sought a subject matter that would regenerate itself continuously; endless, like days and months, and years of a calendar. There is no room for freedom of expression in this matter-of-fact encounter with death. However, recently Lawrence has accepted his role as a storyteller, allowing his art to launch an ever-expanding fleet of emotions and ideas. This has been aided and abetted by the increasing role the internet search engine has played in his practice. Lawrence has embraced this new technology’s impact upon the historical record, abandoning fruitless searches in dusty archives for a digital quest where a single train of thought can yield multiple visual and verbal parallels.


Lawrence’s practice is varied, comprising of painting, drawing, text and installation. He derives his principal guiding theme from current newspaper obituaries, making his artworks into memorials to the lately departed. The artist conceives of his work as a form of ‘history painting’, a much-neglected in the field of contemporary art.


Des Lawrence
on Artuner

Part of the
exhibition

November 1st, 2018 until
January 6th, 2019
Curated by ARTUNER