A fitting day to open an exhibition called Foolery. Housed at London’s The City Arts and Music Project, the exhibition presents five emerging artists who share a view for the bizarre whether in illustration or video. Running through May, 28, 2010.

70-74 City Road, London, EC1Y.

Above: Laura Clarke, “Punctum.”

Full run down of the artists after the jump.

Benedict Siddle

Benedict Siddle uses bold colours, iconic imagery, typography, pattern and repetition to startling and devastating effect. Cunning humour, a sense of fun, optical illusions and an interest in the supernatural pervade his fantasies. His works are also peppered with strong references to popular culture, music and subversive art. Benedict’s imagery is executed with strong line work, simple flat colour and in the majority through the medium of screen printing. Mutilation is rife; lines bend and stretch distorting limbs, tongues and teeth. He is probably a white male who has a dysfunctional relationship with women, and will undoubtedly strike again soon.

In February 2010 Benedict launched T-shirt brand ULTRAMEGA which he manages and supplies all the artwork for. 2009 saw him take part in a group exhibition at The Light bar and restaurant where he displayed a series of prints. He has featured twice in The Association of Illustrators annual ‘Images: The Best of British Contemporary Illustration’ and works as a freelance illustrator. His illustrative work has been used in advertising and publishing and has even graced the cover of the Financial Times.

John Casey

J M F Casey’s practice was born from a natural propensity toward images of a morbid, violent or melancholic nature, a tendency that he seeks to understand and enrich through extended research. These investigations have led him towards increasingly ominous and esoteric subject matters, illustrated with imagery drawn from an array of sources, including medieval art, war photography, horror films and pornography. Primarily executed in monochrome scratch painting, his work alludes to poetic, historic or philosophic concepts. Akin to Baudelaire’s proclaimed task of extracting “Beauty from Evil”, his practice is concerned with the amoral redemptive quality of art.

In October 2009 he exhibited his installation and performance piece “The Church” at 20 Hoxton Square Gallery, which was featured in DazedDigital. He has previously exhibited at Shunt and Nog Galleries, as well as various artists’ run collaborations and exhibitions. He was featured in issue 4 of Le Gun magazine, in 2008. In 2007, Casey self-published his debut artist book, Symphonie Fantastique.

Laura Clarke

Laura Clarke’s work explores the subconscious, the repressed and the departure from the human. She is very interested in the psychoanalytic theories revolving around the formation of desire, sexuality and power. Exploring stereotypes, gender roles, the uncanny, the macabre, category confusion, bestiality and hybridities that threaten our understanding of the world.

In her tableaux type films we find ourselves in a waking world. I her most recent dreamlike film, ‘Punctum’, we are presented with the conflicts between real and fantasy, between the inside and the outside, between being and becoming, innocence and experience and the ideas that surround our experience of ‘liminality’; occupying a middle ground between states, the ephemeral and the permanent, life and death, poised on a threshold rich with longing. Shot on Super 8 film.

Originally born in the Old West Midlands, Laura claims her childhood experiences of living in a dark run-down, once thriving; now forgotten area of industry has inspired her obsessions. She uses this focus to create feelings of claustrophobia and sadness, with the dark and surreal. Drawing on memories of the past and traumatic encounters as her muse, obsessed with Freud and the treasures hidden in the depths of the mind. She now lives and works in London where she is currently nearing completion of an MA at the Royal College of Art.

Thomas Dowse

Thomas Dowse’s work derives from his constant documentation of his surroundings, thoughts and feelings in his sketchbooks. This work is then spliced with areas of interest, in particular, the ancient cultures of the Vikings, Romans and Celts. In his work he fuses the two worlds together and seeks to explore the visual potential of such collisions in all the bloody detail. His satirical view on current affairs also finds vent through his work and allies him with a rich lineage of artists such as Dore, Hogarth and the many cartoonists of Punch magazine.

Influenced hugely by his studies at Sint-Lucas art school in Gent, he became interested in the works of contemporary European artists such as Atak, Lorenzo Mattotti, Elvis Studio and Le Dernier Cri as well as a deep appreciation of German expressionism and the paintings of Vincent Van Gogh. Having graduated from the Kent Institute of Art and Design in 2005 he has gone on to complete commissions for Carling Lager and a community arts project on the Stockwell Park estate in South London.
He lives and works in East London.

Jean-Paul Francisco

Jean-Paul Francisco’s body of work mainly features intricate figurative line drawings, containing elements of subtle humor interspersed with dark undertones.  Jean-Paul’s pencil and ink welding skills outline shadows and movement. Using obsessive detail in both shade and form he presents us with graphic monochrome images lined with notions of timeless design in both their simplicity and aesthetic beauty. Jean-Paul is interested in the mechanics of the human and animal forms and his work often combines these mechanics to create anthropomorphic and zoomorphic creatures inspired by metamorphosis and surreal approaches, metaphor and its application in the real, icons and traditional symbolism.

Jean-Paul also works with photography and film in which his illustrations feature as part of a juxtaposition of various elements.  He has a passion for design and is currently working on a series of luxury lifestyle and fashion objects, including furniture and garments.

Recent exhibitions include ‘Sun, Moon, Bright’’ at Vulpes Vulpes Gallery, London and ‘Shared Future’ at Empire Gallery , London where Jean-Paul presented new editions of  print work in collaboration with photographer Maria Kartansdottir.  His work is used online and in print for editorial, publishing, music, fashion and design. His work has been published in Soup Magazine and featured in the collector’s edition Issue 123 of Computer arts.

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