This new exhibition of works by young London-based artist Joseph Goody finds a space between intention and conformity. Wide, abrupt brush strokes overlap and abut one another in large-scale works that are the result of a meticulous process of revealing and concealing. In leaving the remnants and shadows of stripped away ornamentation the works are an honest reflection of their formation, almost minimalist in form yet indelibly linked to the process of their creation. The effect is an unusual and individual style combining the adversarial attractions of order, regularity and simplicity while at the same time resisting it with the wilful disorderliness of tactility, entropy and chance.
Absorbed by the idea of painting as a special kind of interaction between the maker and his audience, Goody’s work invests the apparently austere with unexpected warmth. A graduate of Goldsmiths College and the Royal Drawing School, he sees his interest in the attractions of orthodoxy and regularity as a rejoinder to the often-heard association between painting and chaos. Developing his own language of eloquence and economy, Goody’s work engages its own process, implying a sense of narrative rather than straightforwardly offering it to the viewer. In its modesty and restraint, it challenges the viewer to become part of the activity of storytelling, acknowledging the inevitability of representation even when the idea of direct transcription from reality has been left behind. In these respects, the artist offers us a nuanced and considered body of work that toys with formalism while remaining attuned to accident and individuality.
Literature is significant among Goody’s influences, and it makes sense that his affiliations should include figures like Jorge Luis Borges – a writer whose attentiveness to structure and intricacy has led to his style often being thought of as having an ‘architectural’ quality. This exhibition adapts the title of a 1912 short story by Franz Kafka. Composed of only two sentences, ‘The Sudden Walk’ or ‘Der plötzliche Spaziergang’ describes a man who, gripped by an abrupt sense of ‘uneasiness’, makes his way into the city at night. The story’s critical attitude towards ideas of regularity and anxiety, order and disorder, translates smoothly to this exhibition, while Kafka’s wider interest in the combination of elliptical logics with richly imagined spaces – castles, attics and cities – is germane to Goody’s on-going work. As in Kafka’s writing, it is in their negotiation between a sometimes oppressively ordered universe and a tangible sense of humanity that the works in ‘The Sudden Walk’ assume their emotive appeal.