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Fractal Veiling: Carl Fudge at Deutsche Bank New York

From April 29 through June 8 2004, Deutsche Bank New York is showing screenprints by the British artist Carl Fudge in its exhibition space at 60 Wall Street. Fudge has been living in New York for ten years; in 2003, he was awarded a grant by the Deutsche Bank Americas Foundation.

Rhapsody Spray, 2000
Courtesy Ronald Feldman Gallery, New York (c) Carl Fudge, New York

Visitors to the exhibition in the newly occupied building of the Deutsche Bank New York might well be in for a surprise. An encounter with the screenprints of the British artist Carl Fudge (1962) quickly recall the colorful patterns that mark the styles of international youth scenes. It's no accident that the rich colors and geometric/abstract patterns in the works are reminiscent of the flagrant designs in fashion, comics, and the music industry. The artist takes his motifs from illustrations of historical Japanese drawings as well as from the world of Anime and Manga comics.

Mobile Suit, 2001
Courtesy of Ronald Feldman Gallery, New York (c) Carl Fudge, New York

Fudge follows his own special working method, subjecting his motifs to an elaborate process in which he employs both digital techniques and painstaking handicraft in the drawing and printing of the works.

The original can be read as a blurred trace in the abstract compositions that arise: in the series Mobile Suit (2001), robots from popular sci-fi animation endowed with transformative powers are distorted to appear as though they were emerging from behind a pane of wavy glass; they could just as easily stem from historical depictions of Japanese warriors.

The duality that emerges in this game of contrasts between an easily consumed pop aesthetic and the culturally charged image motif reflects the artist's role as mediator between the world of the everyday, advertising, and glamour on the one hand and the work of art as a final product on the other. The artist himself remains in the background.

Cliff, 2003
Courtesy Ronald Feldman Gallery, New York (c) Carl Fudge, New York

The screenprint Tattooed Blue (2002) forms a counterpoint to Mobile Suit and portrays the torso of a weeping woman; the motif, borrowed from the Manga repertoire of adult comics, is distorted in a similar way. In terms of content, the artist has turned his attention here to the private sphere, a theme he has also addressed in other works of the exhibition. In Cliff (2003), he takes an erotic Ukiyo-e image of 17th-century Japanese art to establish a reference to the culture's rigid separation between the public and private spheres. In a manner similar to the erotic drawings, which were only sold within a small circle of initiates and were never intended for the public eye, Fudge plays with the metaphoric and figurative veiling of the visual quote. His fractal manipulations question the intelligibility of images hovering somewhere between abstraction and representation, form and content. Not least, they reflect the artistic dilemma manifested in the progressive blurring of boundaries between original and reproduction.

Tatooed Blue, 2002
Courtesy Ronald Feldman Gallery, New York (c) Carl Fudge, New York

The exhibition can be seen Mondays through Fridays. Visitors are asked to call for an appointment: + 001 (212) 250 3207. The artist will be speaking about his work on premises on Thursday May 13 at 5 pm.