With a depth of vision and a scale of multi-layered meanings that some of cinema’s great directors would be proud of, Nicholas Archer’s latest paintings possess a nocturnal, Lynchian quality that suggest a shocking, dystopian vision of the world in crisis, a journey at an end.
Archer had previously used haunting re-imaginings of Disney inspired landscapes, and now, in the role of the Sorcerer’s Apprentice himself, his new images link the painting style of the Early European Northern Tradition with the genre scene backgrounds of artists like Breugel, Uccello and Bosch to more contemporary cinematographic language of recent dark fairy tales such as del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth and Burton’s Edward Scissorhands, Sleepy Hollow and Alice in Wonderland. Here menace is implicit in a seemingly enchanted landscape.
Archer’s new paintings have grown out of his interest in painting the figure. But the inanimate objects found in these new works, whether a van, caravan or cottage, possess a metaphysical quality that allude to both a world out of kilter and a more disturbed state of being . Are these caravans abandoned or in fact inhabited? Their unkempt appearance is reminiscent of the decayed buildings in Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner.
The poured and layering process in his paintings has recently led Archer towards the moving image. He animated the process of piling up layers of transparent paint on glass to reveal those layers which would traditionally be obscured when painting on opaque canvas. This resulted in a beautiful short film called “A Winter’s Tale” and had the impact of revealing this aspect of Archers’ working method.
Archer magnificently ploughs the furrow between the real and the make belief and in these new paintings here we find an unsettling balance, between childlike wonder and a more grown up fear of loneliness.
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