April 15, 2009

Andrew Cranston's dense claustrophobic rooms

In the Guardian, Jessica Lack continues her series on contemporary artists with Andrew Cranston, whose dense claustrophobic paintings are inspired by rooms in great works of literature. "Like Francis Bacon, Andrew Cranston's currency is claustrophobia, imprisoning both viewer and subject in a hellish nothing. By using fiction as his source material, he ensures that his subjects remain forever suspended in an impenetrable isolation. Cranston makes paintings of rooms alluded to in literature. Perhaps the most obvious example is a split-panelled piece, Illustration for a Franz Kafka story (2nd version) (2007), depicting the bedroom of Gregor Samsa, the hapless travelling salesman who transforms into an insect in Kafka's Metamorphosis.

"What is disconcerting is Cranston's tendency to suggest that these rooms are stage sets. In many of his paintings the walls are merely partitions, and a dense background encroaches and encircles the picture, trapping whatever is within. As a viewer of these solitary scenes, the experience is intensely unsettling. There seems to be no recourse. In the few paintings where Cranston has painted a door, it opens on to an impassable grey expanse; there is little indication of another world outside the murky confines." Read more.

"Andrew Cranston: What A Man Does In The Privacy Of Is Own Attic Is His Affair," International Project Space, School of Art Bournville, Birmingham City University, Birmingham, UK. Through April 25.

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