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Cat Fooks at RAMP

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Cat Fooks, Pony Tail Palm, 2022, mixed media. Photo by Sam Hartnett Cat Fooks, Pony Tail Palm, 2022, mixed media. Detail. Photo by Sam Hartnett Cat Fooks, Pony Tail Palm, 2022, mixed media. Detail. Photo by Sam Hartnett Installation of Cat Fooks' show, 'Cake by the Ocean,' at RAMP. Photo by Mark Hamilton. Cat Fooks, The Comfort Hotel, 2022, mixed media. Photo: Sam Hartnett Cat Fooks, The Comfort Hotel, 2022, mixed media. Detail. Photo: Sam Hartnett Cat Fooks, The Comfort Hotel, 2022, mixed media. Detail. Photo: Sam Hartnett Cat Fooks, Minnow, 2022, mixed media. Photo: Sam Hartnett Cat Fooks, Minnow, 2022, mixed media. Photo: Sam Hartnett Installation of Cat Fooks' show, 'Cake by the Ocean,' at RAMP. Photo by Mark Hamilton. Cat Fooks, Miss America, 2022, mixed media. Photo: Sam Hartnett Cat Fooks, Miss America, 2022, mixed media. Photo: Sam Hartnett Installation of Cat Fooks' show, 'Cake by the Ocean,' at RAMP. Photo by Mark Hamilton. Cat Fooks, Frog's Buttons, 2022, mixed media. Photo: Sam Hartnett Cat Fooks, Kobold, 2022, mixed media. Photo: Sam Hartnett Cat Fooks, Lolli Bionda, 2022, mixed media. Photo: Sam Hartnett Installation of Cat Fooks' show, 'Cake by the Ocean,' at RAMP. Photo by Mark Hamilton. Cat Fooks, Picotee, 2022, mixed media. Photo: Sam Hartnett Cat Fooks, Hogback Island, 2022, mixed media. Photo: Sam Hartnett Cat Fooks, Hogback Island, 2022, mixed media. Photo: Sam Hartnett Installation of Cat Fooks' show, 'Cake by the Ocean,' at RAMP. Photo by Mark Hamilton.

Is this just a celebration of anything goes, a paint pot thrown in the face of refined aesthetic judgement, and history repeating, excess for its own sake, visual nihilism, art meets grunge, the repurposing of old furniture and fittings gone off the rails, a hymn to ugliness, a misplaced attempt at transcendence of the mundane, a naughty abrogation of minimalism, or simply a shot at tarting up of the tired, the tame, the house trained?

Hamilton

 

Cat Fooks
Cake by the Ocean


5 August — 2 September 2022

Cake. Too much can clog the arteries or give one indigestion.

Not that Cat Fooks would notice or mind. Her florid and coagulated concoctions (jerry-rigged painterly sculptural forms) are deliberately overloaded with ‘calories’, sickly sweet, caked with confections, layered with the thick icing of paint; impasto on steroids.

And the colours! Of the rainbow: dripping lurid reds, turquoise greens, sick yellows and syrupy champagne pinks, all lumped together like Jackson Pollock gone on a bender.

This is visual kitsch on overload, screaming tawdrily in terribly bad taste. You gotta larf.

So what’s the point?

Is this just a celebration of anything goes, a paint pot thrown in the face of refined aesthetic judgement, and history repeating, excess for its own sake, visual nihilism, art meets grunge, the repurposing of old furniture and fittings gone off the rails, a hymn to ugliness, a misplaced attempt at transcendence of the mundane, a naughty abrogation of minimalism, or simply a shot at tarting up of the tired, the tame, the house trained?

Would all of this have excited Kurt Schwitters, enamoured Duchamp?

Not content with bilious colours poured gummy and gooey onto her central objects like lumpy porridge, the artist has added other detritus to the main course—collaged plates, pots, pans, bits of rope, discarded Xmas lights, baubles and beads—topped off, or bottomed off, with old castor wheels.

These junked makeovers—baroque fabrications where Judy Darragh meets Andrea du Chatenier—see salvaged examples of the old and overlooked mutated into monsters of the grotesque.

Is there some sort of a message somewhere here in all this glut and glutinous excess? Yes, there is, and it is located in the titles. These are send-ups, over-the-top sculptural burlesques.

Take the low cabinet on wheels splashed with a dripping circle of bright orange on black, bordered by strident oozing purples, entitled Miss America. The debauchery and extravagance are sheeted home to a culture and occasion that drips glitz, immoderation and vulgarity.

Comfort Hotel, a conglomeration of objects cobbled together in a mounted hotchpotch of miscellaneous bits and pieces painted a singular dirty yellow, speaks to a world, a Western one, knee-deep in indulgence, intemperance and the profligate.

Fooks‘ work is a searing critique of all that is extravagant in a world satiated with overconsumption and the greedy gratification of every impulse and whim. We are in Roman decadence territory here and Fooks is a modern Seneca pointing the finger.

Apparently the presentation of this collection at RAMP was initially too refined, the pedestals too pretty and artistically polished. It had to be hastily replaced with something more grubby, shabby and begrimed.

Fooks has cleverly worked the shock of the surfeit, and it works, once the right lens is applied.

Peter Dornauf

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