Hales is delighted to announce O contentment! joy!, Martyn Cross‘s debut solo show with the gallery. The exhibition characteristics new paintings that muse on Gustav Flaubert’s seminal book The Temptation of St Anthony.

Cross is principally a painter engaged with ‘world earning.’ The act of painting for him is a usually means to examine the inner lifestyle and strangeness of the common. Each and every operate starts in actuality, with recognizable limbs and features of landscape, which remodel into uncanny scenes. Biomorphic landscapes converse to mythologies, but in Cross’s paintings the narratives are knowingly ambiguous. Acquainted and mysterious, peaceful and epic, scale and irregularity in proportion puzzles the viewer. 

Acknowledged for paintings which are deliberately challenging to put in heritage, there is a timelessness to Cross’s works, reminiscent of unearthed artifacts. Paintings are made in contemplative levels the pigments continue to be vivid – his software and exquisite use of color generates works that hum. Sanding and scratching the surface, Cross strives to make paintings that have lived a life, the trace of their existence apparent. Monumental hangings talk to a heroic narrative of higher powers, offered together with modest paintings which are jewel-like and intimate.

Cross has extensive been fascinated by depictions of the Temptation of St Anthony in the course of art recordspecifically Hieronymus Bosch’s The Temptation of St Anthony* which is a single of the much more subdued iterations. Observing how formulaic the the vast majority of depictions are, Cross notes a reoccurrence of ‘a wild wanting Tony’ battling with demons in actual physical types. Possessing go through Flaubert’s Temptation of St Anthony this calendar year, Cross was struck how quickly the surrealist imagery was conjured from the web pages. Looking at the last paragraph of  Flaubert’s novel Cross has likened to getting his ‘holy grail’ – the words and phrases completely aligning with his exercise and fostered a desire to make more function:

‘O joy! pleasure! I have noticed the start of daily life, I have found the commencing of motion. The blood in my veins is beating so hard that it will burst them. I feel like traveling, swimming, yelping, bellowing, howling. I would like to have wings, a carapace, a rind, to breathe out smoke, wave my trunk, twist my system, divide myself up, to be inside of every-detail, to drift absent with odours, build as crops do, move like drinking water, vibrate like seem, gleam like mild, to curl myself up into each and every condition, to penetrate every single atom, to get down to the depth of make a difference – to be make any difference!’

 For lots of years, prior to examining this affirming paragraph, Cross had been acquiring motifs that imbue the psychological and the otherworldly into landscapes. The functions in the exhibition take The Temptation of St Anthony as a starting up position – there are no physical manifestations of demons but rather explorations of suggestions that align with Flaubert’s spirit and personalized desire in make any difference woven into the tale. The title of the exhibition, O joy! pleasure! directly offers Flaubert, furnishing a wry commentary of a sought-after emotion, counterbalancing the darker, additional introspective themes of the paintings. Cross states, ‘I believe in excess of these earlier couple of years, specifically with lockdown, we’ve all turn out to be a bit Anthony…Locked in ourselves with our demons…’ Billowing clouds, swirling waves, tumbling waterfalls, arching bodies, all-looking at eyes, outsized pointing fingers and blistering suns sort visions of inward reflection.