Galerie Russi Klenner: Got a race to run EN

Galerie Russi Klenner, 27.04.–15.06.2019

Since 2012 David Moses has been exploring how moving images can be transported into paintings and drawings. For the exhibited series Silly Symphonies he reworked early pop archive material into drawings until all that is left of their source material – film stills from the eponymous Disney Cartoon series dating from 1929 to 1939 – are shreds, distorted faces or mere traces. What interested the artist in the beginning of this process, a scene, a mood or a mythological figure, is disappearing like the abstract memory of an iconic motion-picture. As a result, these works inspire a way of looking that is set in motion by the objects it perceives whilst at the same time they invoke a pool of different myths that go back to Anglo-American and European history.

For 31MGM002M0106 David Moses reworked Mother Goose Melodies [1931, directed by Burt Gillett] in which characters from the 18th century British children’s song Old King Cole reappear, performing for the entertainment of a despotic ruler. In David Moses’ adaptation the outlines of the Three Blind Mice have been copied so many times that they appear in a flurry of lines, surfaces and colours which give the scene an air of powerlessness as well as the uncanny.

34TFM004M0607 and 34TFM005M0506 start with The Flying Mouse [1934, directed by David Hand], an Icarus-sample, where the dream of flying is turned into a rejection of the ambiguous: ‘You’re nothing but a nothing, a nothing, a nothing, you’re nothing at all.’ In this setting we also find that underneath the glaring surface there is a blurred but equally impressive threat to our existence.

35TGT003M0505, 35TGT004M0404 and 35TGT005M0707 are reworkings of stills from The Golden Touch [1935, directed by Walter Disney]. The cartoon tells the story of the ancient myth of the Greek King Midas whose lust for gold leads to his own downfall. Using three different perspectives, the drawings re-shape central elements of the myth, Midas’ look in the mirror (35TGT003M0505), his gold-producing well (35TGT004M0404) and Death, looking the King in the eyes as he is starving in the midst of all his wealth (35TGT005M0707).

35TTATH003M0107 is based on The Tortoise and the Hare [1935, directed by Wilfred Jackson] and illustrates the race between Max Hare and Toby Tortoise. Here we encounter another reference to ancient narrative material – Aesop’s fable of the tortoise and the hare. Moses’ drawing contrasts the distorted contours of the tortoise with an outline of the confident hare whilst granting the observer a lot of space.

In Got a Race to Run we see how David Moses’ intention of transporting motion into the otherwise motionless forms of painting and drawing, using the quotes above as well as others from the 1930s, takes shape. Disney’s characters sometimes appear as a flicker in the corner of the eye and sometimes in a very clear focus. The artist thus captures moments which intensify and multiply their subject, but also distort and negate their meaning. This process is linked to an increasingly fast-paced perception of our lives, a breathless surfacing and re-surfacing of phenomena, or a shimmering ride that pulls us forward until a new one begins.