The Flower of Kent : Max Rumbol

1 - 31 October 2020

Union Gallery is pleased to present The Flower of Kent with Max Rumbol’s latest body of works, curated by William Gustafsson.

Throughout time we have been hammered with the myth of an artist as a genius, an obsessive laborer, a crazy solitary being. We often inherently value artwork as a direct trace of the artist’s hand. Rumbol’s woodcarving works transcend the practices of sculpture and painting bringing the result into a unique blend. His creative process relies heavily on computer machinery; the automated hand. Rumbol’s compositions begin with sketches, progressing into digital drawings which are then transformed through a clinical process into a physical work. Rumbol labors these manufactured sculptural surfaces, bringing them into a physical space by manually working the surfaces in different ways to reveal or hide the trace of the artist’s hand. In doing so, a dialogue is created where one can question what the artist’s role is or where their hand lies.

The works presented in The Flower of Kent are semi-autobiographical; reflecting on Rumbol’s role as an artist and exploring his thoughts during lockdown. These artist figures are imagined, fantastical characters that are presented alongside a picture of their surrounding worlds, which only add to the myth of the artist. Rumbol works prominently at night; the idea of nocturnal working drenches the works in a dark, oppressive manner. The artist struggles to leave this transcendental state of night, which embodies an over exaggerated and romanticized obsession with making.

Based in rural England, Rumbol plays with the romanticized idea of the British countryside. Whilst it’s beauty is never denied, the landscape and pastoral life are impinged by the reality of the drab and gloomy last light of the day; the stars and moon casting the only light.

The motif of the apple is featured throughout the exhibition. Since the beginning of “time” the apple has been omnipresent. We only look to the story of Adam and Eve and the apple as the forbidden fruit as the source of all evil. Yet it is versatile, leading to Isaac Newton’s ‘eureka’ moment in the law of gravity. The Flower of Kent’s work, with the action of the apple falling, is an ode to that tale. Rumbol’s fetishisation of this specific fruit helps to relate to the idea of art object as fetish object; a trace of the artist’s hand.