Depression might not be the first thing you think while surveying the images from Down in the Dumps, a solo exhibition by Doug Bowen that ran at Liverpool’s Cactus Gallery from August 15 to September 13, 2015.
The Leeds-based artist who recently joined the Leeds Weirdo Club as its newest member takes a big step out of his comedic comfort zone for Down in the Dumps, using a more subtle approach to fine-tune a refined approach to the soft edges of depression.
Four works spread themselves throughout the exhibition on the walls. All are digital vinyl prints and, Bowen informs us, are painted over again and again with layers of opaque grey removable ink. What is seen peering through are unspecified pieces of marks falling apart and fractions of a saddened face staring towards the viewer. On another wall, pink bubbles overlap one another in the top right of their aluminium frame, dissipating eventually into greyness. Cactus received the prints ‘blank’, ready to be scratched off by the curator, leaving the artist seemingly as curious as the viewer as to when and why the curator stopped scraping. It’s certainly a lovely process to imagine, as satisfying as a scratch card but without disappointment.
On the third wall rests ‘The Official Squad Medal Collection 2015 (Collector’s edition) #1 – #24’, holding what could on first glance, tidy rows of white painted pills. They are melted down pieces of aluminium, hand-made medals, each dabbed and made individual with Tipp-Ex. They echo sweetly and are the inverse of the four originally uniform vinyl prints, scratched down to become up. **
Exhibition photos, top right.