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Gerry Judah Recreates Scenes of Ruined Settlements at Wolverhampton Art Gallery
Gerry Judah, Country, 2009. Acrylic gesso and mixed media on canvas, 190 x 380 cm.

WOLVERHAMPTON.- Leading contemporary installation artist and sculptor Gerry Judah challenges us to explore our understanding of war, conflict, peace, natural disasters and devastation in a solo exhibition, COUNTRY. The exhibition is co-curated by independent curator Jenny Blyth, and Kate Pryor-Williams.

Gerry Judah’s work is a direct response to landscapes of destruction whether the result of war or climate change. His paintings are inspired by conflict - particularly in the Middle East whether Iraq, Afghanistan or Gaza, showing global concerns for the environment and the decimation that follows natural disasters such as the flooding of New Orleans in 2005, and the recent Australian bushfires.

He recreates scenes of ruined settlements that we witness daily as reported by the media. Urban landscapes, constructed from cut out buildings, complete with internal structures, communication wires and water towers are fixed onto canvas, and then systematically destroyed.

The rubble and debris are fused onto a background of empty white canvas with layers of acrylic gesso to create ‘white on white’ abstract paintings.

The role for contemporary artists is to react and reflect upon life and the world around us. They may choose to celebrate form and beauty in figuration or abstraction, or perhaps to reflect on the social mores and politics of society. They may share with us a visual diary or preoccupation, coloured by their personal sensibility, or they may choose to express a sense of collective mind. Simultaneously they are creating a distinct artwork that has a unique voice and spirit, which will invite us to share their thoughts or narrative, whilst also exploring our own.

Gerry Judah’s paintings are a direct response to conflict across the globe, and the impact of that violence, whether it is the consequence of war or natural disaster. At the same time, he is fascinated by changing urban landscape, and his paintings explore the dynamic of construction and destruction. It is hard to look at his work without reflecting on conflict in the Middle East whether that be Afghanistan, Iraq or recent months in Gaza. There are also echoes of the devastation ensuing from climate change wrought by hurricanes, tsunamis, flooding and bushfires that remind us of New Orleans underwater, or the aftermath of the tsunami in the Asian Basin. Although on first inspection, Judah’s epic landscapes articulate global concerns for peace, he acknowledges the dangers of man’s impact on a finely balanced global ecology, and the decimation that unravels as we exploit the planet with an ever growing appetite.

Aesthetically, Judah composes a score that is made up of light and shadow. The fragility and delicacy of his work is at odds with the force and consequence of the concepts that drive him. Despite the darkness of his subject matter, he creates an explosion of light permeated with an ethereal quality reflecting the cadences and vortices of shattered architecture that we witness in daily media reports. His apocalyptic settlements constructed from scores of buildings, complete with internal structures, communications and water towers are fixed onto canvas, and then systematically destroyed. The ensuing rubble and detritus are scattered and fused onto a background of empty white canvas with layers of acrylic gesso to create silent ‘white on white’ abstract paintings.

Transcending issues of politics, race and culture, Judah creates an abstracted and disturbing aesthetic that is both mellifluous and pertinent, where the ‘presence of absence’ and loss is palpable, and we are confronted with the reality and urgency to seek solutions.

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