Joe Campbell is a Derry born artist, who still lives and works in his native city. Recreational Riotingconsists of a series of surreal, digitally-painted artworks, recently commissioned by The Arts Council of Northern Ireland, that reflect the artist’s own personal and particular experience of the Northern Irish ‘Troubles’ and how the resulting war impacted on his life. They also refer to the unreality and futility of conflict.
Campbell’s work is littered with broad references to pop culture: Rock stars, Hollywood actors, Starscapes, fantasy and Science fiction, cultural references the artist felt denied and deprived of as a young man whilst striving to exist under military dictate which was the daily reality of living in Derry for over thirty years. Whilst the ‘Troubles’ happened, so did Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, Monty Python, The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, Rory Gallagher and so many other cultural milestones. Whilst here, we had the triumph of Religious fanaticism, Militarism, surveillance, martial law, prisons, murder and mayhem.
Campbell’s highly figurative digital paintings hint at a closed environment of intense surveillance, of feelings of control, exclusion and ‘otherness’. His images attempt to realise the subconscious, the unstated nature of thought, memory and suppression. They reimagine jingoism; barricades, sacred places and religious politics, they take petty dictates and reframe them in surreal gothic landscapes of the imagination back dropped by his home town.
Most of all Campbell’s art seeks to replace repression with expression, small thinking with philosophy. His work seeks to place freedom, choice and the pursuit of happiness over those of depression, hatred and bigotry. They acknowledge the global and the existence of other possibilities and question the validity of ‘inherent modes of religious and political belief’ that in effect, cage human beings and the creative spirit.
Exhibition 6th - 16th September.
Launch Friday 6th Sept, 7-9pm. All are welcome.