2016 Review by Jack Gardner
Was Head of School of Communication Arts at Somerset College for many years. Recently he has been a visiting lecturer at Bath Spa University College.
He is the author of two books.
'Words are not things,' and 'I wish I was the person I’m pretending to be,'
both published by Foulsham.
His third book
Module 3. Postulated Theories Concerning Textuality
Will be published in the Autumn.
Antony Girardot’s latest collection of images are illusions of three dimensional forms rendered in flat paint with textured backgrounds on canvas.
Shadow-describing, otherwise unseen, shape is added with subtle gradations of tone to create powerful pictures of seemingly possible objects. I say ‘seemingly’ because upon scrutiny you begin to wonder if the subtle, complex lighting that gives solidity to the objects could ever be created in a three dimensional reality.
One of the first and most striking impressions of these works is their stillness. It’s partly the isolation of the objects hanging weightless in space but also the way they insist that they are solid objects, and in actuality, objects of considerable desire.
They exude an air of utility. In a world that elevates the iPhone to an almost religious status here are the next objects that will transform our lives. It's just that, like many desired objects today, their form gives no clue to their function. We do not know what they do but we want them, we want to possess them, we want to find a need for them in lives bereft of cultural anchors.
It is here that Antony Girardot hits the nail right on the head. An iPhone is just a 'phone with a camera and some games in it, these objects promise a world full of machines of unimaginably exciting functions. But is it utopian or dystopian? If you take an image like 'Tall Blue,' and stand it front of it you cannot fail to sense it's cold, callous, indifference to you the viewer. It has it's own agenda and you can just wait to find out what it is. In the meantime its brooding presence refuses to engage in debate. Maybe it will start bleeping or say a word, and then what are you going to do?
Just as iPhone's texting, selfies, music, Internet, videos, tweeting all promise transformative change for most people they are simply a mask to cover up vacuous and empty lives, So Antony Girardot's objects promise a whole new world of things that will do the job that the iPhone did not quite manage to give us fulfilling and gratifying experiences.
Needless to say as with all of Antony Girardot's previous work the effortless beauty of the aesthetics is simply breathtaking and in many ways almost counter productive as it is easy just to accept his work as just being about surfaces. But that is to miss the point of the beauty being the disguise that he uses to smuggle much bigger ideas past us and into our psyche.