" bog, \ˈbäg, ˈbȯg\, noun, wet spongy ground; especially: a poorly drained usually acid area rich in accumulated plant material, frequently surrounding a body of open water, and having a characteristic flora (as of sedges, heaths, and sphagnum)
— Merriam Webster Dictionary
How dreary to be somebody! How public like a frog To tell one’s name the livelong day To an admiring bog!
— Emily Dickinson
In 1982, a man operating a tractor on the central east coast of Florida raised the wide steel bucket of his digger and brought up a scoopful of human heads. Estimated after radiocarbon testing to be over seven thousand years old—predating by millennia both Stonehenge and the Egyptian pyramids—the skeletal remains discovered in the sludgy quagmire of what’s now known as the Windover Archaeological Site (or Brevard County Bog), were remarkably well preserved by the earth’s curative acids, transformed into dark artifacts of an eerie, oily beauty.
American Bog is motivated by the creative profundities of such happenstance ancient excavation. In nine new works, the British-born artist’s brush approximates the swing and jut of the paleontologist’s pick and chisel, as though he were bringing to light after an amnesia of centuries, the turf-fermented fibres and soil-crumpled countenances of iconic Americana. From the Stars and Stripes to a portrait of Abraham Lincoln, from Mickey Mouse to JFK, the artist unpicks the porous psyche of a superpower as if from an intimate, though inconceivably distant, future perspective. The result is a salvaging of symbols that have been buried under the weight of too much staring, a revivifying of overly-familiar signs by replacing their tired tissues with the fresh flesh of unfathomable age—a tenderly toughened complexion that challenges conventional aesthetic notions of what constitutes artistic beauty...."
- an excerpt from American Bog, catalogue essay by Dr.Kelly Grovier
American Bog, solo exhibition, Broadway 1602, New York, USA
In conversation with Anke Kempkes