by Amy Lockhart
Drawn & Quarterly
Dirty Dishes is the latest entry in D&Q’s Petits Livres series and it’s a strange little book. Not something I really understand to be honest – not the actual art on show, I’m more at a loss as to why D&Q published it at all. Because it’s not comics. Not at all. Essentially it’s an art exhibition catalogue – paintings and installation works collected together at far too small a scale to be effective. Perhaps if I’d seen Lockhart’s work in a gallery, or in the larger scale of a coffee table art book I might be more inclined to enjoy it – although I doubt it. But at this tiny size – smaller than A5 – it just doesn’t do it. I know D&Q intend Petits Livres to bring new artists to a wider audience, and Lockhart will want her work showcased, but not this way surely – this simply underwhelms, not what I’d have wanted for a first book collection of my work certainly.
But even though I hated the presentation, the actual content is striking enough – collecting drawings, paintings, some installation photos, animation stills, cardboard sculptures and even a couple of short (very short) comics.
(Two of Lockhart’s figure studies from Dirty Dishes, published by Drawn & Quarterly)
Lockhart’s obviously talented, as just a flick through Dirty Dishes, with it’s striking, grotesque figure studies and stills from her strange, surreal and even whimsical animations (such as “A Single Tear” or “Walk For Walk“) will show you. She’s inventive and strange with her animations but I find her figure work just a little static, nothing new in it at all.
(One of Lockhart’s stills from her animation “Walk On Walk”. From Dirty Dishes, published by Drawn & Quarterly)
The majority of the pieces in Dirty Dishes are Lockhart’s character studies – which are strange, grotesque things, raw, muscular, sinewy and often lacking limbs – Lockhart simply states that she likes the torso shape and removing the arms just allows her to focus on it. Whether in inks or acrylics the tone is distinctly alternative, and there’s an element of underground cartooning in her work, especially the comics. Although having said that I’ve seen it all done before, far better, with Julie Douchet‘s wonderful, challenging work coming to mind – all the grotesque, striking imagery of Lockhart but with a greater connection to the reader through narrative art that shocks, entertains, intrigues and draws the reader into the world Douchet describes so weirdly and so well. Compared to that, Lockhart’s simple studies are simply second rate.
But no matter what the artwork, if it’s produced to be hung on the wall or animated onto a screen, then I maintain that showcasing it into something as tiny as these Petits Livre books just isn’t doing them justice at all.