”Down to Earth & Outer Space”, Paul Rimmington’s Apocalypse

Paul Rimmington in Kalhama&Piippo 23.01. – 01.03.2009

05.02.2009 Carl-Dag Lige

Gallery Kalhama&Piippo currently exhibits the works of Paul Rimmington – a British artist who has been living in Helsinki for nearly 10 years. The exhibition in the well-lit penthouse gallery comprises over 30 works from recent years and includes sculptures, collages, paintings and a three-dimensional installation.

Rimmington received his degree from the School of Art and Design in Coventry University as a painter. The artist’s background as a painter is clearly present in the current exhibition as well. The exhibited objects can hardly be called paintings, but all of them are covered with a thick coating of paint. Rimmington’s use of different materials is elaborate. In addition to the large number of broken canvases, he uses extensive amounts of wire and wire mesh, found objects, different plastics and makroflex aerosolid to build semi-abstract sculptures and three-dimensional collages.

Rimmington’s art generates a mood of anxiety and discomfort. The works emanate a grotesque vision of an apocalypse of humankind and our natural environment. The central piece of the exhibition is the installation “A Church of Painting” – a small temporary chapel, open from two sides. A video is projected to the wall as an altar piece, the rest of space being filled with different kind of rubbish. Although dedicated to painting, I would prefer to call the “church” as a (pseudo-)sanctuary of the consumerist society.

In these times people need redemption more than ever. Many people hope to find it from the material well-being and they spend enormous amounts of money to get a good and interesting life. Yet, a large part of society is unhappy. The economic depression increases anxiety and it is difficult to find peace with ones’ own mind or with the surrounding world. Rimmington’s uneasy, not to say disturbing sanctuary is an ironic counterpart of consumerism’s inability to redeem the mankind. Going to the super-market does not relieve one’s existential sorrow. In spite of their abundant and luxuriant materiality consuming centres only make individuals more anxious.

Consumerist culture cannot redeem itself, even if it would be boiled in the purgatory of the caldrons of a plastic factory. Instead of redemption the consumerist culture melts into the toxic mass of pink-blue plastic and finally suffocates all its members and their habitat.

In the press-release of the exhibition Rimmington speaks of himself as an artist who has no ambition to be a part of the art-world.He describes his works as
paintings without any pretensions. Even if the artist does not have ambitions concerning the art-world nor the larger society, it is tempting to take Rimmington’s art as ecologically orientated. His grotesque and apocalyptic vision comments on Earth’s future, a horror scenario where as a result of global warming vast amounts of plastic has melted and the human-civilization has disappeared.

Trying To Make My Mind Up, Up & Up

The grotesque sculptures are like non-conscious hybrids, robot-like creatures who have taken command on Earth, where the natural environment has been destroyed. If Rimmington’s aim has been to draw the visitor’s attention to ecological problems, his elaborate use of synthetic materials is questionable. Why not use found objects and trash – just as most of the junk- and eco-artists do – instead of toxic materials like makroflex?

Scraping For Escaping Stardoom

Most of Rimmington’s exhibited canvases are broken and the frame is laid bare. Parts of canvases have been glued, sewn and re-arranged to abstract three-dimensional collages. A frame of a picture is like a skeleton of culture – without it, the canvas, i.e. the painting itself, could not exist. In the context of Rimmingotn’s works, the frames seem to function as signs from a lost civilization of intellectual beings – that is, the humans. Rimmington’s art seems to reflect the yearning for a new order and stability, a re-born civilization, which would tolerate and embrace the multifarious implications of natural as well as urban life.

All images: Gallery Kalhama & Piippo Contemporary