Hedley Roberts makes paintings of lovers, friends, family, acquaintances and strangers using images gathered from social media and in communication with his subjects. Through a process of over-painting the subject is obliterated and re- imagined generating a complex dialectic in the space between the subject and object; paint and image, artist and the portrayed. As portraits, the paintings themselves have a powerful ‘selfie’ agency in their outward gaze to the viewer, the eyes and mouths operating as indexes to an interior life of a mysterious new presence and identity. The characters depicted have a fragility that is overwhelmed by the tension in the paint application and colour, which varies from thin washed layers and lyrical touches to fervid, violent gestures and impasto application of deep colour. For Hedley, the act of painting itself is an integral tool in an attempt to understand the gap between the way we represent ourselves and the way we are perceived; and each painting is the result of a outcome of a private negotiation between self and otherness.
British eccentricity and obsessiveness is a significant area of Alex’s practice through the creation of painstaking and intricate models. His works celebrate the combination of lo-fi materials such as paper or wax with a high art material such as bronze. Wood juxtaposes the two materials together to create amusing and unique sculptures that portray narratives relating to human endeavor or indeed failed attempts! His subject matter has included everything from the Titanic, to the world’s first ever flight in the Montgolfier balloon, which famously caught light over the roof tops of Paris.
But what intrigues and delights is the physical presence of his work. He uses unique bronze casting as a kind of drawing. First making complex armatures from cocktail sticks, wax and found objects, he then makes beautiful one-off casts that are then often juxtaposed with nearly weightless elements. It is these contrasts between a featherweight paper ship and a heavy bronze balloon that bring humour and a note of pathos into his pieces.
Human endeavor, science, sailing, the industrial revolution, space travel and risk are all displayed as if looked at and examined through a home made nineteenth century lens with charming results.