Text by : Robert Clark
Robert Clark is an artist and arts reviewer for the Guardian. He also reviews for, Portfolio, Arts Review, Artists Newsletter, The Wire and Creative Photographer.
Graham Foster is a rare original, a virtually indefinable force. His strange constructions can be seen as both sculpture or wall-based pictures, meditations on morality and virile fertility figures, works of rebellious desperation and self mocking send-ups. The dynamic symmetry of many of them is reminiscent at the same time of both New Guinea tribal make-up and germ warfare mask design. Foster moulds the visages that haunt both the beginning and the end of the world. His work is packed with the evocative contradictions that are essential for the creation of art of real depth. Thankfully one can never pinpoint what these works 'are about', what they 'mean'. So we are free to dream our extensive interpretations.
Take his monumental work, Corrective Play. A large phallic construction looms up the centre. It is sensuously crafted from oxhide to suggest the inviting comfort of leather upholstery. Yew and bamboo lengths are similarly fashioned, carefully fitted together and polished to hint at some kind of proboscis. Then the authenticity and earthy colour riches of these natural materials are set in complete contrast with lengths of bright red and yellow rubber fire fighting hose. The hose is coiled to suggest two boggle-eyes, so the phallic form might after all be some bulbous joke-shop nose.
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