Within the sanctuary of the tower basement James McLardy and George Ziffo presented a formal dialogue between their respective practices. Both share concerns with the tangible experience of ‘making’ and draw unashamedly upon historical strategies of abstraction to elicit informed and distinctive visual languages. Between the two practitioners there is a shared concern with the mutability of form and the deceptive nature of surface appearances.
McLardy’s work results from processes of observational study, aiming to contrast and highlight idiosyncratic depictions of specific objects. His working method is underpinned by a technical appreciation of detailing processes and traditional sculptural techniques such as trompe l’oeil, marquetry, and casting. These processes reflect a fascination with an eclectic range of references, contrasting modernist forms with the Baroque, questioning the relationship between the fake and the real nature of their materials.
Ziffo’s practice has evolved through exploring forms of abstraction and the possibilities and limitations of visual languages. Recently he has imposed a simplified vocabulary of pictorial ciphers and gestures that undermine their own pretence at communication by subtly mutating in each work, sometimes hinting at rudimentary portraits. The use of a recurring oval motif plays with the notion of framing devices, acting as portals on the self-reflective activity of painting. The works embody a sense of precarious unease, their different characters trapped within shallow surfaces.