Craig Fisher’s second solo exhibition at Rokeby, Hold Your Fire, is an ambitious installation that at first appears to jar with the artist’s previous concerns. On the ground floor of the gallery Fisher presents what appears to be a weapons amnesty. Numerous weapons of varying sizes are carefully and formally laid out as if for inspection. And inspect you might, because each piece of military hardware is in fact meticulously crafted from utilitarian materials and fabrics, the handles and blades, knuckle dusters and chainsaws made from careful stitch work, embellished with ribbons and buttons.
Even the table upon which these weapons are placed has the woods grain and its knots carefully rendered in thread. Inviting the viewer to question the process of interpreting and organizing sensory information Fisher forces the viewer to reassess the recognizable. A table, a knife or a fence are all familiar objects with seemingly practical roles but not in Fisher’s world, here they are devoid of function and perform on a very different level.
Having negotiated the table you are faced with a fence of brightly coloured fabrics and seductive textures, again its purpose may be questioned, is this for the viewer’s protection or is it a blockade. In the basement of the gallery Fisher creates a scene that upsets ones understanding of the upstairs gallery and the ambiguity of perception is at once revealed. What had at first been understood, as a peaceful submission, now appears to have been to the contrary. Could upstairs have been a prelude to something far more sinister? The contradictions at play in Fisher’s work distend beyond our visual reception. Fisher selects his fabrics with precise attention to their values and associations, so that Chambray cotton may be employed within a sculpture of barbed wire, fine linen may creep into an object suggesting a form of torture and a shimmering spandex be used to present a glistening bodily fluid. In a similar manner Fisher’s decorative stitch work, ornamentation and delicate detailing are often associated with a feminine hand and are rarely placed within what could be seen as the masculine territory of violence and horror.
Within his practice Fisher references both popular culture and high art; the scenes that he creates are the territory of slasher movies and horror flicks, yet they are presented within a cartoon like landscape with a skill and dexterity that has taken years to perfect. Similarly he tackles his subjects with knowledge of art history and his precedents such as Richard Artschwager. Artschwager’s use of materials such as Formica, used as an image in and of itself, his preference for such materials that could be considered to be in bad taste and his references to everyday objects are certainly celebrated by Fisher.
Craig Fisher graduated from Goldsmiths College in 2000 where he was awarded a Saatchi Fellowship, shortly after which he completed a fellowship at Ecole Cantonale d’art du Valais, Switzerland. Recent exhibitions include the Bloody Mess a solo exhibition at Leeds Metropolitan Gallery, Uncontrollable at Vane, Newcastle and the Crafts Council’s Boys Who Sew. Previously he has exhibited at K3 Project Space, Zurich, Cell Project Space, London, Galerie Zurcher, Paris and Nylon, London he has a solo exhibition at the Millais Gallery later this year and will be one of three British artists exhibiting at the Artspace Gallery, Sydney in A Comedy of Errors.