Red-eyed cowboys smoke cigarettes and sit astride rearing horses while a burly woman practises the guitar on a blue wooden chair. For his first solo exhibition entitled On the spur of the moment at Kristin Hjellegjerde Gallery, Wandsworth, Joachim Lambrechts invites viewers into a dynamic visual world inspired by impulsivity and play.
The exhibition’s title alludes to the artist’s method of painting which involves a sense of risk in that each work begins with the mystery of the blank canvas. Lambrechts never makes preliminary studies or sketches, striving instead for a childlike spontaneity which rejects self-judgement in an attempt to capture the essence of creativity. Standing in front the works, the viewer is struck by the dynamism conveyed through the fervent colour palette and visible brushstrokes. And yet, the characters and objects are rendered from precise, clean lines that appear the result of a more conscious process. It’s a paradox that Lambrechts recognises: ‘I want to create an image that’s recognisable whilst giving the impression that it has been created without thinking too much. Sometimes I manage to put myself into a zone where I paint spontaneously and then the next moment, I overthink it. It is a struggle to continuously get back to that state, but I think the struggle is also somehow essential to the making of the work.’
The title also makes reference to Lambrechts’ recurring Western theme, conjuring up a time when cowboy’s kicked their horses into action with the spurs on their boots. For the artist, it is a theme evocative of not so much a bygone era, but of a past romance that is connected with childhood as much as it is with a state of being. The surreal aesthetic of the artworks serves to simultaneously conceal and reveal the illusion of that state, which might appear momentarily accessible to the artist through the act of creation, but like the past, is never truly attainable. In one painting, for example, a cowboy is depicted riding his horse against a red background painted with golden stars whilst an animal’s skull lies beneath them on the ground. The image’s block colours and clean lines are aesthetically appealing in their simplicity and yet, the set-up of the scene is recognisably performative, thus hinting at its illusory nature.
However, it is our recognition of the illusion that allows us to break free from conventional perspectives so as to experience if not a child’s world-view, then at least a form of positive escapism.‘When I paint, I want to be free and disconnected from everything,’ commented the artist. ‘I want my audience to see and feel that freedom and joy.’Amidst the sombreity of our times, On the spur of the moment offers a celebration of vibrancy and play.