Paul McDevitt

Night Soil
23 March – 21 April 2012


Martin Asbæk Gallery is proud to present for the second time a solo show with the acknowledged Scottish artist Paul McDevitt (b.1972). For the show Night Soil the artist takes our the gallery space with new paintings inspired by the Dutch artistic movement De Stijl from the 1920s while the works on paper use cartoon elements.

For Paul McDevitt’s last show Bile and Manias in 2009 at Martin Asbæk Gallery, the cartoon elements were used in most of the works. The cartoon elements are for the artist and art form that captures movement, weight, velocity in the most reduced, simple way. Comic art uses only the most essential line to create a sophisticated image that can be understood and read by everyone, regardless of language or age.

The large paintings are all painted with acrylic and then screenprinted over. The painted elements are colourful and often rough, gestural and loose, sometimes incorporating spray and oil pastel. The screenprinting seals the painterly layers and creates a kind of tension between the two elements. Their most obvious reference are the painted language of de Stijl. But McDevitt’s works are composed equally of elements referring with the panelled narrative structure of comic books and the boarded up shop windows of recession Great Britain. Unlike De Stijl, these paintings use secondary colours and muddied gestures, circles and diagonal lines. The initial plans for these paintings were printed out and then elements more traditionally associated with craft were added, such as plasticine, stitching and buttons. Some of the works reproduce details, such as cracked paint surfaces, from existing De Stijl paintings and as such suggest a memory of painting.

The paintings are in a way claustrophobic works – there is almost no white in the paintings. Dense, dirty, busy paintings. An impure abstraction with inserted figurative elements. If de Stijl was concerned with harmony then these works are spiritually unwell.

At present Paul McDevitt lives and works in Berlin. He works with the artistic media drawing, sculpture and performance art, and has participated in several curating projects. Since he graduated from the Chelsea College of Art in 2000 McDevitt’s works have been exhibited at a number of interna­tio­nal venues as well as in various solo exhibitions at galleries in Europe.