Chinese Whispers: Hugh Scott-Douglas

Clint Roenisch is pleased to present a solo exhibition of new painting and sculpture by the Canadian artist Hugh Scott-Douglas (b. 1988). His graduating thesis exhibition “An Invitation To Lubberland” was held at the gallery, to academic and critical praise, in March, 2010. Although still very young Scott-Douglas has already begun to gather a reputation in Canada for the depth of his analysis of art history since Picasso and of the pivot points available to – and the precedents obstructing – an artist now, just beginning his career, a century and many movements later.

Chinese Whisper
Chinese Blister
Chime Lease Blister
Chime Least Blizzard
Crime Ceased Wizard
Grime Greased Lizard
Grime High Priest Lizard
Hard Time High Priest Gizzard
Hard Thyme Hype Gizmo
Through painting and sculpture, each made with a diverse range of material, Hugh Scott-Douglas makes work that refers to production itself, to its consumption and to the gallery itself as container, using visual cues gleaned from minimalism and op art. The central dialectic of the work springs from the tension between the need for a rigid authority figure, on the one hand, and the very possibility of establishing such an authority, given that it is so easily subverted by its own parts. This tension arises when, in each work, the authority is embedded in a severed partnership – half medium, half author. However, through Scott-Douglas’s process-oriented methodology, one of the partners is elected over the other. In each case there is an emphasis on transparency and a push towards a paradoxical state of “non-denial denial”. In Scott-Douglas’s treatment formalism is detourned to allow the medium to execute its own mutiny. Experimentation and process become central themes that allow some works to be successful and others to fail; this produces a formalism that is equally in tension – working both towards and against a static form.

In the exhibition Chinese Whispers (taken from the name of a children’s game where the first player utters a phrase to the next who repeats to the next with unintended errors accumulating) the works are assembled into visual sentences, each work acting as a word in the sentence. The vocabulary involved is both complex and simplistic; the grammar tries to place each sentence in a balanced state between self-negation and affirmation. A constant oscillation between inventiveness and implosion make each statement oblique. Each work employs a technique or motif that is repeated throughout the sentences. When repeated, the revisions act like a stutter, when combined, a slur. The work encourages discourse; by virtue of the works’ subtlety each begs the viewer to question what they are seeing. In emphasizing placement within the container of the gallery, Scott-Douglas tries to create an environment that is both dynamic and problematic, alternately attracting and repelling the audience, acknowledging and interfering with the existing architecture of their container.