|Work by: Jonathan O'Dea|
|Work by: Neil Irons|
Binary choices appear to be part of the norm, where in today’s world there feels to be very little room to sit back, stop and think about what the other options could be. In the name of progress time to stop and think is secondary. Part of this binary process encompasses political decision-making, where if tough decisions aren’t made now, with clear and decisive leadership, progress will take a backward step. The need to do things ‘now’ doesn’t give room for choice or options. The pace this progress has taken, especially in East London over the last 20 to 30 years has seen many social and physical changes where we have forgotten what a normal pace of life is. In some ways Jonathan O’Dea and Neil Irons have been part of this change, where, as artists their profession has been become a marketing commodity to help sell East London as up an and coming area. But the one thing about both of these artists, is that their work has always been truly reflective, mindful and sceptical of the impact of these changes from a physical and psychological view. They have remained dedicated to what it really means to be an artist, to sit back, stop and think about what art is really about, and how its informed. There is no binary process to their methods of working, they are truly part of the slow art movement; their work is considered and always timely. There is no thread setting going on here.
Jonathan and Neil’s recent work are reflections on their place in urban London, and how this city has impacted on their sense of identity and creativity. This is reflected in their physical work, which isn’t your run of the mill landscape paintings, or sculpture. Instead you get a raw feeling from their work, were you sense that things aren’t quite right with their world. To add to this, both artists have a very out-ward looking view of the world with a very European aspect to their identity, but yet retaining their sense of personal identity with their respective birthplaces. Jonathan moving to London from rural Ireland in 1987 with his family, and Neil moving from Dundee to London in his early 20’s in the same year.
However, recent binary choices such as the referendum on Europe, to be ether to be In or Out, has brought political decision making into question. This binary choice has only exposed a long festering wound were people have for some time questioned their place in their wider environment which has now taken the form of Brexit. This binary issue is clearly reflected in Jonathan’s and Neil’s work where it explores the idea of 2 worlds in which you feel you have to either choose to be in one place or the other. Very much like how the regeneration of East London has forced people to make a stark choice, either be part of something or just disappear. However this binary process does not always provide you with options to choose; you are left floating between two worlds. Something that is very apparent in Jonathan and Neil’s recent work.