Joachim Lambrechts: No Regrets

Joachim Lambrechts: No Regrets
28 July – 26 August 2023
Kristin Hjellegjerde Gallery
2 Melior Place
LONDON
SE1 3SZ

What does it mean to tattoo the words ‘No Regrets’ on to your skin? Is it a command or a mantra, a hope or a provocation? In Joachim Lambrechts’s latest series of paintings, faces, bare muscular torsos and shapely limbs appear heavily embellished with popular tattoo slogans and motifs against brightly coloured backgrounds. For his latest solo exhibition at Kristin Hjellegjerde Gallery, London, Lambrechts combines his signature use of witty word-play and bold, idiosyncratic imagery to explore the ways in which we express our identities and look for meaning in an increasingly homogenous world.

Joachim Lambrechts: No Regrets
Joachim Lambrechts, Louboutins, 2023
Enamel paint, spray paint and oil sticks on canvas.
140 x 120 cm 55 1/8 x 47 1/4 in
Copyright The Artist

‘It seems that today, surrounded by an abundance of information, material and influences, people are more than ever searching for themselves and a sense of belonging,’ says Lambrechts. ‘The irony is, of course, that all of this information actually gets in the way. We are fed ideals by social media and advertising so that we all end up wanting to wear the same clothes, to go to the same places, to get the same tattoos while at the same time longing to be unique.’ It is this paradox that lies at the heart of the exhibition. In each of the paintings, the figure is made simultaneously original, through the combination of symbols etched on to their body, and anonymous.

Lambrechts sees tattoos as a form of visual storytelling – sometimes quite literally as in the painting Hard Times where the words ‘BLAME SOCIETY HARD TIMES’ are inked around the figure’s eyes – but also as a second skin or mask. In all three of the portrait paintings, for example, the features of each individual’s face are barely distinguishable amid the many images that surround them.

Joachim Lambrechts, No regrets (male torso on blue background), 2023
Enamel paint, oil stick and spray paint on canvas
140 x 160 cm 55 1/8 x 63 in
Copyright The Artist

Elsewhere, in the two paintings titled No Regrets, we encounter depictions of the male and the female torso that appear almost like pin-up posters or advertisements – both bodies are unnaturally sculpted to an image of ‘perfection’ while every inch of exposed skin is covered in tattoos ranging from skulls and flowers to knives, tear drops and the initials KH (present in every painting as a nod to Kristin Hjellegjerde gallery). Both figures have the slogan ‘No Regrets’ inked onto their stomachs: the message here is defiant and challenging, as if they are daring the viewer to judge the choices that they have made, but it is also ironic. The often-spontaneous decision to get a tattoo becomes a permanent mark on the skin, not only altering the person’s appearance but also the way in which they are perceived by others. 

©2023 Joachim Lambrechts, Kristin Hjellegjerde Gallery

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