Pascal Rousson: The House of Pain

Pascal Rousson: The House of Pain - absolutearts

2008-08-21 until 2008-09-14
Vegas Gallery
London, UK

For his first solo show, Swiss/French artist Pascal Rousson presents work which elaborates upon Museum of the Dispossessed, an installation previously exhibited at Vegas Gallery as part of the Loose Booty exhibition. Rousson's work ironically debunks the ideologies and values embedded in Modernist art. His current installation scavenges elements and themes from his own work, including flea market and charity shop paintings reworked with satirical references to canonical Western artists, an interest in the metaphorical potential of American pulp and amateur D.I.Y. craft-making manuals, and a preoccupation with the constricting myth of The Great Artist as Rock Star, destined to burn out and leave a trail of beautiful, history-altering corpses.

Museum of the Dispossessed incorporated paintings, which appropriated covers of the late 1960s D.I.Y. magazine Practical Householder. The paintings presented comical narratives that cast American modernist artists as self-obsessed bricoleurs with nameless and compliant female sidekicks, whose great works echo by the "low" aesthetics of amateur home improvement projects. Through juxtapositions of imagery and text within the canvas frames, and through their status as components of an installation rather than singular art objects, the paintings challenged the concept of art and artists as self-contained entities by foregrounding plural presences, influences and voices inhabiting the installation.

In his latest work Rousson extends the D.I.Y metaphor into darker territory. In the centre of the gallery stands a structure resembling a garden shed, constructed from a skin of closely packed paintings that mix references to canonical artists with American pulp novel cover art, teenage bedroom aesthetics and trippy pop surrealist-inflected imagery.

Traces of the artist as sinister loner, blazing comet and petty criminal reverberate through the structure. Rousson rams textual references to famous artists (Andy Warhol, Christopher Wool, Dan Flavin, and Sigmar Polke) against snippets of kitschy science-fiction landscapes that mock the hallowed inner-space model of artistic imagination, and lurid Russ Meyer style mannequins disrobing for virile men wielding palettes and paintbrushes in place of guns.

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