‘NON-STOP-SUPER-DE-LUX’ was British-Bermudian artist Charlie Godet Thomas’ third solo exhibition with the gallery coinciding with his presentation in Frieze Sculpture 2019.
‘NON-STOP-SUPER-DE-LUX’ brought together writing, objects and paintings from his series ‘Illuminated Manuscripts’, in this instance exploring the effects of business and busyness on our sense of tranquillity, control and empathy. Thomas’ painted poetic ‘Illuminated Manuscripts’ which began in 2017, bridge the stylistic qualities of newspaper cartoon strips and a more Blakean approach to pairing writing and imagery.
Taking its title from the pages of Pushwagner’s 1969 dystopian graphic novel “Soft City” the works in the exhibition focused on Thomas’ interest in revealing alternative, often more sinister dimensions, of the language and imagery of consumerism. In “Verbal Bodies”, Matthew Turner’s then recent essay on Thomas’ practice, he noted that, “The materials used to create the works are, to a certain extent, a red herring: the real medium is language, and in particular how language becomes space, it is the space between written and visual language which the artist interrogates.” ‘NON-STOP-SUPER-DE-LUX’ saw Thomas further asserting this hypothesis.
In recent iterations Thomas’ ‘Illuminated Manuscripts’ have been presented with their own integral light fittings, in part this is a play on the various meanings of “to illuminate”, but more importantly, it is also a move towards creating works which breach a more theatrical realm. In ‘NON-STOP-SUPER-DE-LUX’ the works were lit by hanging pendulum lights which borrow and celebrate the creative way cut plastic water bottles are used to protect lights from the rain in Mexico City, where Thomas currently resides.
In his sculptures, Thomas’ tendency is to strip objects back in the same way he does text, allowing them to play new roles, stated by the artist as a wish to, “liberate them from the constraints of their previous purpose”. A series of new sculptural works, including the pendulum lights, accompanied the paintings, placed or hung throughout the space, playing the role of punctuation, conducting the flow of the installations reading.
In his work ‘Song of Innocence’ fragments of painted works are assembled inside a vitrine; pieces of watercolour paper containing broken images and text settle within a void as if falling, the form of the written poems illustrating themselves through their sculptural form and arrangement. Within the confines of VITRINE, Thomas presented a new body of work which scales up, but similarly considers the architectural volume of the glass space.
Alongside Thomas’ exhibition at VITRINE, his sculpture for Frieze Sculpture 2019 titled ‘Cloud Study (Partner Dance)’, also extended from this practice. The work is comprised of two weather vanes which mirror each other in both their design, source imagery and function, pointing in the same direction as the winds shift. The imagery atop the vanes is selected from Thomas’ collection of “personal rain clouds”, imagery that has often been used in comic strips as a popular means by which to explore the complexities of depression, anxiety and mental health.
Thomas has previously stated that he hopes to “evade the traditional hallmarks of public sculpture: for an imposing quality to be substituted by quietness, heroism by the everyday, stillness by function, sternness by humour and vulnerability in place of grandstanding”. Across these concurrent presentations at VITRINE and Frieze, Thomas drew the attention of each viewer, or passerby, to the qualities of movement and stillness, busyness and tranquility, humour and the tragic in his quintessentially poetic manner, across diverse mediums.
Charlie Godet Thomas (b.1985, London. British-Bermudian) currently lives and works between Mexico City and London. He studied a BA in Fine Art (Sculpture) at Manchester School of Art in 2009 and then an MA in Fine Art (Sculpture) at the Royal College of Art, London in 2014 where he was awarded the Bermuda Arts Council Scholarship and the Peter Leitner Scholarship. He has been exhibited internationally at galleries, institutions, biennials and fairs, including: BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, UK; Assembly Point, UK; Bermuda Biennial, The Bermuda National Gallery, BM; Ladrón galería, Mexico City, MX; Carillon Gallery, Texas, US; Telfer Gallery, Glasgow, UK; Paradise Works, Manchester, UK; RCA/ ECA Edinburgh Sculpture Court, Edinburgh, UK; Cactus, Liverpool, UK; Poppostions, Brussels, BE; and The Manchester Contemporary, UK. Residencies include: Caribbean Linked IV at Ateliers ’89 in Oranjestad, Aruba (2016); Tarrant County College, Fort Worth, Texas, US (2017); and Atelier Mondial, Basel, CH (2017).