CHRIS MOON The Joy of being Scene 15 – 21 October 2021 private view 14 OCTOBER 2021 6-9pm 17 Marlow Workshops Arnold Circus London E2 7JN
Hoxton Gallery proudly presents an exhibition of new paintings by contemporary British artist Chris Moon. The exhibition includes site specific paintings responding directly to the unusual architectural design of this eclectic gallery. Moon rose to prominence with sold out shows in London and New York between 2011 and 2016, since then he has taken considerable space to reexamine his practice, focus on personal self-development and critically examine his own work – he returns, triumphantly, with incredible new figurative paintings for The Hoxton Gallery.
The exhibition title, The Joy of Being Scene, is deliberately complex and multi-layered. On the surface it may seem to refer to the enjoyment an artist gets from exhibiting work, however in this instance that joy is intensified and born from a burning desire to connect with others. The title also refers to the self-conscious happiness conjured by being a part of something, a member of a ‘scene’, and alludes to the loneliness and isolation Moon currently experiences when feeling like an outsider. The ‘scene’ brought to life in these paintings is an illusion, the figures appear to embrace joyous revelry and party with one another in bacchanalian ecstasy, yet these parties are pure fiction based on wishful daydreams by the artist.
The show is divided into two sections – on the top floor individual figure studies will be displayed, these include iconic works from earlier in Moon’s career that he has revisited, and new pieces created specifically for this show. On the lower ground floor, Moon will display a brand new 10m long canvas work with many figures partying and reclining in a righteous dreamlike party. The work will consume the space, creating an immersive experience for the viewer.
The viewer may feel a sense of being part of something, a guest at the painted party, or conversely feel like a voyeur, looking in from outside. The paintings created this year are deliberate investigations into isolation and loneliness, the work presents different ways of actualising these emotions. A lonely nostalgia for a past life of partying emerges to the fore, perhaps particularly relatable in the context of the irreversible social impact of covid.
Moon utilises an unusual mix of source material for these works. He has returned to previous paintings of reclining individuals in London Fields during hot summers, along with similar from parks in New York. Alongside this, he has begun to draw on new source materials because of lockdown including 60s- and 70s-men’s magazines and social media pictures – in many ways his current practice actualises the experience of a lonely voyeur lost in their own imagination.
Our anxieties and sense of extreme isolation, especially felt during the lockdowns, manifests before our eyes in these works. The large-scale wrap around 10m canvas becomes almost religious, depicting reclining women from vintage men’s magazines, desexualised, like classical art historical nudes. At the same time, the use of neon paint is essential as a kind of ode to nightlife and sleepless cities that always offer a place of refuge.
Layering and returning to previous work is an essential element of Moon’s work. In his practice, there is an atypical approach to time and the notion of something being finished. He endlessly circles back to old works, ideas, and stylistic features. He paints many layers onto each canvas and constantly loops back to imagery and concepts in an endless, atemporal investigation. A key work for this exhibition is a reclining man in a grassy green scape, this was originally created during a trip to New York when Moon’s anxiety caused a sensation of facial paralysis. The incident was troubling and inspired he to paint this figure with a half-concealed face. Here, this figure returns in a new context as a cornerstone of a series of new works.