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Tom Gidley


This print is based on one of a series of works on paper made with watercolour inks. They were partly inspired by Rorschach tests, the ink allowed to flow and settle once applied. This one is of three masks, or heads. They float in space, interlinked, their extremely long noses pointing in different directions. They remind me of a speech or thought bubble. They might seem grotesque, sad, or happy. One of them is winking, or maybe squinting. Perhaps it all depends on your feelings about extremely long noses.

His paintings could be described as ‘psychological portraiture’, teetering between figuration and abstraction. The subject often appears to be conflicted or resistant to being represented and viewed – something is always held back, deleted. Backgrounds blend with limbs, faces are altered or erased altogether. Gender is frequently unclear, and beneath the surface tranquility, there is contained chaos. Working in intense and unusual colour combinations, Gidley has said that: “The relationship of colours in my work are ‘unnatural’ just as my subjects appear in relation to or against their backgrounds, because all representation is an act of violence and dislocation, to some degree. The fragile nature of identity is central to my art and my writing.”