• 19 OCTOBER — 23 NOVEMBER 2013 

Galerie Gabriel Rolt is proud to present Mental Kingdom, a solo show by James Aldridge. This will be Aldridge's third solo Exhibition at the Gallery.


Aldridge's working method revolves around a concern in the belief of images. Always interested in mankind's relationship with nature, folklore, and the superstition, the artist returns to subjects involving death, life, and landscape as well as belief, good, and evil. Aldridge derives his painterly inspiration from a wide range of (art historical) sources such as natural history field guides and Renaissance landscape painting. John James Audubon's 19th century illustrated documentation of all types of American birds and the covers of heavy metal albums are also referenced in his practice. These different influences culminate in a characteristic style that combines a variety of techniques and forms. The tension between different though inseparable notions of nature -that is both beautifully consolatory and overwhelmingly haunting - makes a feeling of melancholia inescapable.

In the new paintings and cut-outs Aldridge takes his working method one step further. Here the traditional conventions of landscape painting, such as the presence of a horizon or background scenes, have disappeared. Natural objects and birds emerge in abstract voids where gravity seems absent. Other nightmarish motifs fill the frame as well. Although apocalyptic in atmosphere, the crisp colours and stylized forms of the compositions retain a certain visual harmony reminiscent of graphic art, folklore decorations, Renaissance perspective studies, Baroque scenic wallpaper, Victorian gothic, and dream-like Symbolism. The images derive their structure from curious patterns, for example those made up of painted thorns. Additional geometric solids evoke a sense of nearly occult enigma. As such the works represent a clash of visual languages that are balanced together by these mysterious patterned structures.

The works in "Mental Kingdom" take from his interest in music, in particular heavy metal and its iconography. Several subgenres of metal transcend the music itself to become both a lifestyle with its own codes of conduct and have even developed their own visual language. His graphic iconography and overall practice can be positioned against "Black Metal Theory", with its life-conducting attitude and mode of thought - several art forms have picked up on this to process the world through darkness. Likewise some of the music, in particular black metal can evoke the same sense of the sublime as experienced when one is confronted with magnificent nature.