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Bromley, Kent, UK in 1980
Damien Roach concerns himself with investigations into ideas of the indeterminate or transitional. Core to his practice is the discovery of strange or magical occurrences, within the site of the commonplace experience, or where usually moments are devoid of any revelatory potential. More than just the act of finding the poetic in the mundane, in Roach's works there is the sense of being transported from the everyday through the everyday. The expression of these moments forms his continuing research project in various media incorporating painting, video, animation, drawing and three-dimensional work.
Roach's painted objects for example, on first glance appear to be discarded and reclaimed boards - weathered and distressed by time. On closer inspection the scratches and scrapes of the seemingly random markings reveal delicate and intricate vistas of nature - birds, trees and flowers. Roach has started to use found furniture such as stools, chairs and tables as a support for his paintings, such as the work About This Time Each Day (2004). These readymade objects have been used, discarded, found and then reused, and with his intervention are renewed in their value. All the work shares the sense of a casual approach, harbouring a lightness of touch and an apparent ease of production. Roach's discreet interventions possess a particular visual typology that allows the viewer to invest in another plane of discovery towards a modest epiphany. There is a rupture of established value systems through his mechanisms for investigating various physical and ideological inversions. Often there is a particular interface with visual perception that unassumingly offers the suggestion of alternative modes of worldly perception, such as with his occasional use of anamorphic imagery that requires you to look at an image from a predetermined point of view in order to see it without distortion. The works can be taken on formal level as poetic, but they are intended to be more un-resolvable somehow, due to the breakage in object status that occurs with his curious form of illusionism.
A Small Big Thing (2003) is configured intelligibly using a slide projector, a video camera, a sheet of black card and a monitor. On the monitor appears a nighttime snowstorm - snowflakes fall illuminated by an unseen light-source in the darkness of night. Yet, after a little investigation it becomes evident that this is a constructed apparition. The image we are viewing is live streaming from the video camera positioned to film the sheet of black card, and the snow is actually dust floating by in the atmosphere, lit up by projected light from the slide projector. What is omni-presence, mere dust, is re-presented to us through simple means as opulent natural phenomenon. Modestly arranged with its 'thriftstore-Caspar David Friedrich' aesthetic, the work declares its own manufacture as it happens, revealing a fabricated rendition of the sublime.
The fine line between figuration and abstraction in Roach's practice enters into a realm that invites a form of perceptual apparition. There is a double-take required to consider whether what you are seeing is a genuine encounter through the inversion of the domestic and the strange, or the large and the miniature. These slights of precisely visible imagery amongst the unspectacular, question our own cognition, in presence of what can be alluded to as the manifestation of hallucination. Much of Roach's exacted imagery contemplates an idyll of undisturbed innocence and of existence effected through psychedelic schema.
Piece exhibited in Venice: "A Small Big Thing", dimensions variable, mixed media installation