If you don’t know what to expect from Lamsfuss, you’re in the right place. His work is all about surprising and destabilising his audience. Once you find the gallery, hidden away at the end of a private passageway which smells of the dry cleaners’ next door, you are greeted by three identical paintings of a good English fry-up.
Lamsfuss’ work is about the real and unreal, and the fluid space in-between. Many of his pieces are replicas of well-known photographs, warped into unreality by his brush. He takes images from a variety of media: National Geographic, fashion magazines and iconic cinematic stills to name but a few. Each piece is meticulously copied using a pencil grid, mapped out and built up using oils over weeks. The authenticity behind a photograph is twisted into the fantasy of art.
The layout of the exhibition is vital for the overall experience. Turning left into the main space of the gallery, Christ lets probing fingers touch the holes in His chest, just next to a delicate pair of blue- and white-checked high heels in brown socks leaning against a tree. Opposite, two duplicate pictures of an African tribal girl surround the striking image of a woman tattooed in Louis Vuitton symbols. There is beauty and arrogance in the overall lack of narrative, as well as an enjoyment…the artist is playing with our credulity.
The overall impression of Lamsfuss’ work is the overwhelming amount of media we are faced with in our modern world. The subject matter, so different are his choices of topic, becomes almost irrelevant. Lamsfuss can shock, sadden, evoke a smile or frown where he likes, but the matter in the paintings is not the real content under discussion in this exhibition. He is not trying to create a new style of painting; quite the opposite. Everything is imitation. By transforming reality into art, the image is sent into a hyperreality, almost performing a full circle as the means of production labels it fiction. It would not be wrong to make comparisons with Lamsfuss’ work and that of Warhol, although they both take different approaches. The emphasis is on production, reproduction, the image and authorship. As the artist says himself “What you see is what you get”.
Whilst technically brilliant, Lamsfuss’ technique refuses to be categorized as classical. While dimension and perspective are of importance, these too are warped in order to destabilise and unsettle. His style, if one can give it a label, would be “post picture”, making copies which are no longer copies once created: by using a different scale or medium, and by removing context, the image offers something entirely new.
The fun in this exhibition comes from trying to guess the source for each piece. Decontextualised, the paintings are snapshots of our world. In photographic medium, they are transitory moments. But in paint, they are the fleeting made permanent.