This July, Unit London presents the first solo show by London-based contemporary artist Rex Southwick. Querencia will bring together a new collection of Southwick’s highly saturated paintings that present lavish domestic spaces in relation to notions of ownership and aspiration.
Confronting the seemingly endless stream of idealised domestic environments found on digital platforms, Southwick disrupts dream-like settings by incorporating domestic workers and labourers that reveal a hidden truth behind notions of luxury and possession. In Coping and Tiles the identities of the workers are deliberately obscured to invoke a sense that they do not belong, despite their role as the creators and custodians of these spaces.
Southwick’s works manifest the sinister undercurrents in our desire for safety, luxury and the domestic dream. The title of the exhibition, Querencia, evokes Ernest Hemingway’s Death in the Afternoon that describes a bull staking out his querencia – or ‘preferred locality’ – before a fight, in order to feel strong and safe.
Working from images sourced directly from Balearic and American building contractors, property developers and realtors, Southwick gains access to a rarely documented phase in a property’s life and the role of those who create them. As seen in Chlorine and the largest painting in the series, pH 7.9, Southwick uses swimming pools as a central motif that can be read as representing a liminal space between several realities.
Drawing on the historical use of these settings within Modern and Contemporary art, Southwick’s paintings are a captivating yet chilling synthesis of form and concept, delivered with a confidence of technique. The artist merges architectural precision with vibrant, expressive colour, investigating the inherent qualities of paint against that of the pixel, deconstructing the digital sphere through contemporary motifs of desire.