Set in a future world of animal-human hybrids, artist, writer and performer John Russell depicts apocalyptic acts of violence and renewal in his billboard-scale backlit images. These scenes can be read like Renaissance friezes or the cover of a science fiction thriller. They are landscapes in action; scenes animated by both birth and decay.
The dystopic stories Russell tells through his digital paintings relate back to his own writings. Russell produced a series of thick novels, Frozen Tears, which pull together everything from Marxist theory and Spielberg to diary entries and press releases. Russell sometimes performatively reads amalgamated texts as manifestos. His written work is in constant communication with his visuals. Through the combination, Russell questions the material context in which written dialogue can exist. Operating on the outskirts of genre, Russell turns the logic of science fiction in on itself.
The work on view at Liste serves as a precursor to Russell’s upcoming survey exhibition at Kunsthalle Zurich in August.
John Russell (b.1963, lives and works in London, UK) studied History of Art at Goldsmith’s College of Art and Fine Art at Slade School of Art and Saint Martin’s School of Art. He was a co-founder of the artists’ group BANK, of which he was a member for ten years participating in over fifty exhibitions and events, as well as several publications. Since leaving BANK in January 2000, Russell has worked both independently and collaboratively in producing exhibitions, publications as artworks and curatorial projects. His work has been shown at Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin, Ireland (2017); Center for Contemporary Art Derry~Londonderry, Northern Ireland (2016); Treignac Project, Treignac, France (2013); The New Art Gallery Walsall, UK (2013); ICA, London (2011); Focal Point Gallery, Southend, UK (2011); The Grey Area, Brighton, UK (2011); Kunsthalle Exnergasse, Vienna, Austria (2011); Tate Britain, London (2010); and Tate St Ives, Cornwall, UK (2009).