Detroit | James Melloy

Detroit | An Exhibition of New Paintings by James Melloy

Leyden Gallery is pleased to present a solo exhibition of new paintings from James Melloy. The hi-gloss paint and aluminium ground of Melloy’s paintings obliquely traverse the idea of ‘Detroit’, in both visual and metaphoric terms. As a title for this exhibition of paintings, Detroit also summons to mind an industrial city known once as the hub of American car manufacture.

Art Exhibition previously on at Leyden Gallery in Greater London, United Kingdom.
From Wednesday 27 April 2016 to Saturday 21 May 2016
Launch Tuesday 26 April 2016, 6.30 - 9.00

Detroit image

Published by anonymous on Friday 08 April 2016.
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‘Customers can have their car in any colour as long as it’s black’ Henry Ford

For one group of paintings in the show Melloy has decided to limit the use of colour to a tonally subdued palette of grey, Breton blue and deep blue. Whilst this choice implies a field of limitations it also resonates with the mass-produced; products not only belonging to a bygone age of commerce and industry, but also intersecting with the postmodern idea of a Warhol-style Factory output. The reassuring sense of ‘a product’ is to be found in Melloy’s paintings as their use of gloss on metal suggests their manufactured quality. The slick final image is however complicated by insistent evidence of the hand in the work, these are not mechanical; the gesture remains that of the artist. Each painting contains at least a single completing brushstroke that in its movement across the plane, unifies, draws out the image, and coalesces to present a moment in time to reflect on.
The artist says that the colours for him also symbolise the meeting between optimism and melancholy. The production of the paintings and their finish – reverberating optimism in the colours, in the notion of rebirth and regeneration – are also found in the curvature of sleek automobiles with their optimism of the crisp shiny and new, whereas the degeneration and loss of what had been Detroit, proposes an underlying site of melancholy.
Detroit then, as a city, and a lost way of life, becomes the metaphor for Melloy’s work. It feels that something better might just burst through, that once again it will be the grassroots rebuilding that sees the humanity and optimism return to the city. The paintings, imbued with complex interpretations of the city further provoke urgent questions of austerity and production whilst speaking of the fragility of human existence.