return to, the home of critical reviews

Hugh Mendes at The Loading Bay

From:     e
Category: Exhibitions
Date:     15 September 2008
Time:     05:48 PM


There is something compelling about obituaries, which must be one of the reasons why they have
survived countless newspapers' structural revisions and redesigns. The lives of the famous and
infamous finally, and yet for the first time, narrated in the past tense. The daily paradox of
simultaneous proximity and distance to celebrity is resolved by death. When the famous die there is
a media awareness of a bearing witness to History. The obituary offers the first glimpse of what
this particular life's grand narrative will be. In those of lives less known, there is the often
wistful opportunity to admire individuals' qualities, achievements and, alluringly, to take in a
potted history of an unknown discipline. Finally, there is the ultimate smugness of the living, not
dead yet. 

Ripe subject matter for for art? Hugh Mendes' paintings certainly create an impact through their
quantity. Each is individually painted in a hobbyist style. They can, however, be a bit hit or miss,
both through their choice of subject and the manner in which they are painted. The room filled with
newspapers, with a video of the artist talking about his work on a TV in the middle, was
unnecessary. Or worse, by mixing 'real' newspapers with depicted ones the space and terms of the
paintings are negated. Apart from their headliners, Mendes' painted obituaries are deliberately

return to, the home of critical reviews