Thomas Lisle at Koukan

Contemporary artists have chosen increasingly unconventional ways to represent modernity. The modern appears in objects, or is apprehended in a kinds of aesthetics that leans towards graphic design. The fact is that, even in art, depicting the modern has never escaped from submerging in technology. I mean submerging because modernity in contemporaneity has failed in representing humans without making them look like second-best things. That dilemma has become an issue for artist Thomas Lisle in his last exhibition at Koukan Gallery, in London.

His individuals are humans in shape and idea, but after looking well to them, we can see creatures constructed with colorful and tri-dimensional pixels. His characters exist as digital archetypes carefully placed on canvas that exists only by coincidence. In “From the ethereal to the material”, this attempt of “dematerialization” of the image becomes part of that discussion on modernity, but for the artist, this develops into other goals and targets (see “Inner Light”, for instance). There’s the assumption that these pieces are importing a new perception from the world, but this process ends up in something unnatural, but not completely artificial. The connection with the real world receives the bless of a software (a human creation as well), but all this software achieves is to depict subjects were as if they were in slow movement, and the canvas alludes to some kind of screen. As if on camera, we were only tridimensional pixels that fail to express anything.

Contemplation, Thomas Lisle
Contemplation, Thomas Lisle

The interesting part of Lisle composure lies in the metaphysical, or the “ethereal” condition, whatever that means. As Lisle argues, that’s what make these artworks not losing a human condition. His proposal is aimed at making this so-called ethereal to preserve some humanity, but in another meaning. The painting “Pale Blue Heart” embodies that non-human, post-human duality, resulting in awkward environments made by and to this new people. Instead of featuring the city in a documentary approach, his London is left from the autocad software straight into the white cube.

Lisle’s work eventually invites to experience a distinct sensation of being in this world, which this world is no longer our own. Spectators can rather feel a completely disorientation on how these pieces can really exist or communicate, as what they mean is never clear. Yet, this is not only about awkward cities and spaces. It includes representing impossible human relationships. Going back to the 1960s Pop Art, Joe Goode and Wayne Thiebaud appear as strong artistic links for this type of alternative, mute, but not less beautiful mode of representation, where soft image manipulation meets an emulated clarity.

Present in the art circuits since the late 1980s, Thomas Lisle shows frequently in the UK, whether via sculpture or installations.

His show is at Koukan Gallery by 3rd of November of 2013. Koukan Gallery – 106A Alexandra Park Road London – N10 2AE

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