Rokeby Gallery

The Craft Council had organized in 2004 an exhibition Boys who sew in response to the wave of dressmaker artists embodied by great figures like Annette Messager, Rosemarie Trockel or the young Swiss Sandrine Pelletier which could have been seen this summer at the Galerie Frank in Paris. Prize winner of the Saatchi grant and host of the very new Rokeby Gallery in London, Craig Fisher forms part of the very select club of the male dressmakers. However, he is not one of those who play with the delicacy of embroiderers: although the visitor is welcome by Puke, a pretty puddle of soft pink vomit, decorated with pearls and strass, he arrives then on the scene of a car crash, Wide Boys, where the almost natural-sized and a little flabby vehicle is embedded on the angle of a column. It is indeed on contrast between the friendly foam matter and the violence of the settings that Craig Fisher mainly bases his works: thus, in the basement, a series of slicers, knives and giant blades is arranged in a large case which could be the panoply of the perfect butcher. These objects turned congenial by the use of tender colours and felted fabrics are not less worrying: two traces of blood-drenched hands cover the wall and further, two oversized blades are jabbed in a light green half-opened door. Watch yeh back!, warns the piece.

The visitor put in confidence by this comics environment crosses in fact scenes of crime from which the protagonists have disappeared. Indeed, no human presence, except under the shape of traces in Fisher’s installations or drawings. These frameworks that rhythm the exhibition represent simple balloons furnished with Japanese-styled patterns or kitsch wallpapers. The Speech bubbles, which traditionally shelter virile onomatopoeias grumbled during epic engagements, are embellished with delicate and coloured floral patterns as if the character had literally been able to express himself in the language of flowers. The elements put in tension in Fisher’s works are not only concerned with violence or with the supposedly female practice of stitching, they also set a grotesque form of buffoonery. The perverse computer H.A.L. in its foam version has the appearance of an old inoffensive radio. The disproportion of all these sharp instruments make them appear like large toys: this distortion had already been employed for gigantic bombs and sticks of dynamite decorated with a shimmering damask fabric. The final product then made think of Christmas decorations though the first form remained identifiable and explicit in the titles, Clear and presentable danger. Craig Fisher’s Misdemeanours remain male fictions coated with flowered fabrics that no one does know which aspect is being nearest to reality.

Magali Nachtergael

Lecturer in History of Art, completing a PhD in Literature and Photography in Paris… based in France.