Goldsmiths Curatorial Critique

Jon Pylypchuk at Alison Jacques Gallery

Posted in Reviews by bridgetdonlon on January 31, 2009

Jon Pylypchuk presents new works in the form of sculptural installation, painting and works on paper in just sit back and recount the violence of one year at Alison Jacques Gallery. A cast of crudely formed creatures appears in each incarnation, musing literally and figuratively on life’s futility in the midst of an approaching apocalypse. Pylypchuk’s world is an alternate universe that might be a grotesque reflection of our own.

In the center of the main room of the gallery’s ground floor is an installation in which psychedelic, oddly anthropomorphized but recognizable animals made of stuffed fabric sit on beach chairs amidst a pool of sand littered with crushed beer cans. The animals face inward to watch the main event – other animals snorting cocaine off the belly of a walrus. It is a schizophrenic’s version of Beach Blanket Bingo.


This beach party gone horribly awry (or possibly very very right, depending on your point of view) is surrounded by several large related paintings. The works are generic abstractions formed by layers of impasto, crackling glazes and resin varnish that act as the backdrop for small felt creatures accompanied by low-budget cartoon speech bubbles. Small strips of paper with phrases written in the artists’ scrawl give the scenes narrative that are humorous, yet sad in their pointlessness. These tiny pieces of text are by no means the focal point in any of the works, but they succinctly indicate the mood of the overall oeuvre. In one painting, three felt creatures each with distended eyeballs, scrawny legs and wild tufts of hair are placed in a northeast sloping diagonal line. The creature on the bottom left says “your name will be the last thing I say when I die,” the middle creature’s response is “I hope you don’t still owe me money when you die” and the third on the upper right sums up the scene by saying “watching you two douchebags climb this mountain together is really heartwarming”. Pylypchuk’s characters fluctuate between sentimentality, irony and deadpan – a picture of the post-financial crisis naughts. The exhibition takes its title from one painting where a group of worms are huddled together while five of the creatures described in the previous work float above in an ethereal landscape. The largest worm has a speech bubble that says, “just sit back and recount the violence of one year”. This fortune-cookie statement, miniscule in physical size, fills the room with its ominous and thought-provoking message.

Several related works on paper are on view in the adjacent room. They are rudimentary, like collages one might have made in a primary school art class, and contain the same imagery and style as the paintings and installation in the main room. In one, the following conversation unfolds left to right:
-It’s over finally over today
-Yeah fuck it bro
-Fuck it then bro
In another, one character says, “life is seventy percent wishing it was better.” The fleeting materials in these works further push the point of longing and hopelessness set up in the paintings and installation.

9 January – 21 February

16-18 Berners Street, W1T 3LN

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