The 1979 war film Apocalypse Now, directed by Francis Ford Coppola, produced some famous quotes, such as “I love the smell of napalm in the morning”. Another quote is “Charly Don’t Surf”, and that’s the title of Pamela Golden’s current solo exhibition at the gallery Marlborough Contemporary in London. Golden’s second solo show with the gallery features new works. Pamela Golden is best known for miniature paintings in oil and encaustic, but the exhibition at Marlborough Contemporary presents large-scale sumi watercolor and ink works that show surfers and dinosaurs.
As the info text explains, “Charlie Don’t Surf explores generational relationships with imagery and visual culture, considering how associations adapt and alter over time. In a departure from the miniature paintings in oil and encaustic Golden is best known for, large-scale sumi watercolour and ink works reimagine found photographs and illustrations to embody an interrelation between past and present.
Appropriating the exhibition title from a line in the 1979 film Apocalypse Now, which in turn became the title of a song by the Clash, Golden’s new series of paintings use photographs of American soldiers surfing during the Vietnam War as a visual reference, juxtaposed with found illustrations from retro Science Fiction. Influenced by Sontag’s 1965 essay ‘The Imagination of Disaster’, Golden explores cultural anxieties in relation to visual culture; by painting the ‘unthinkable’ – be it conflict, apocalypse or a long lost time-period – the artist exposes universal concerns of the human psyche.”
The exhibition Pamela Golden: Charlie Don’t Surf at Marlborough Contemporary in London is running until December 30, 2015.
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Pamela Golden was born in Chicago in 1959, and studied at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Having lived and worked in the UK since 1989, Golden often integrates her own cross-cultural referencing into the work.
She often works in series developed from source materials, where her research is rendered through miniature paintings in oil and encaustic. Her images play with the inherent photographic qualities of their original sources and the intimacy suggested by their small scale. The practice often involves her reimagining absent or potential histories suggested by the source materials, filling in gaps to generate a strong sense of narrative. The small scale of the paintings is also an important counterpoint to the monumentality of modernism. Recent works have also engaged with a bigger scale and other media, such as video and musical soundtracks.
Golden has exhibited extensively for over 20 years throughout Europe and America; including a solo show at the Gulbenkian Foundation, Lisbon, in 2004.