Inability to Quantify the Indefensible
A Graduate of Camberwell College of Arts Fine Art Drawing course, Patrick Metcalfe’s work has long sought to highlight different perspectives on socio-political issues. His Artworks, primarily realised in pencil or graphite stick his work usually features multiple images drawn in different styles, combining to form a single piece. A technique inspired by Sergei Eisenstein’s “Intellectual Montage Theory” whereby, multiple images when placed together, form another image in the mind of the viewer. Through this approach the work attempts to change the perspective on different aspects of society from commerce to value, to the hierarchies of power.
His first solo-show, Inability to Quantify the Indefensible, is the culmination of 3 years of artworks concerning capitalisms relation to society. The name of the show is taken from the title of the series of large scale drawings in this exhibition and pertains to the use of the diagrammatic visual language the works employ. A reference to capitalisms own focus on quantification through reduction. The irony of this enterprise, is the work itself’s inability to completely quantify capitalisms complex integration in society. The same way capitalism fails in its venture to completely quantify the entirety of human experience.
The Piece that began this line of enquiry was inspired by a diagrammatic approach to understanding the Afghan War. The Afghanistan War Diagram, the immensely complicated outcome, highlighted the inability of power to simplify an issue so as to control it. With capitalism being authoritarian and aggressively imperialistic by nature, it was felt to be a perfect metaphor for the relationship capitalism has with society, once the visual language was turned back on its subject. The complexity of the piece shows the complexity of the issue, but attempts to simplify it somewhat by connecting more familiar aspects of society with their consequences or origins. Therefore the connection is made for the viewer between the smartphone in their pocket and the exploitative practises employed to create it.
The second piece in this series again uses familiar imagery and the diagrammatic form to draw conclusions for the viewer to assess. It depicts the flow of money from individuals making up the majority of the population, to an entrenched and powerful minority. The largest piece in the exhibition, it’s divided in two, the physical and metaphysical. The right hand side concerning itself the thought patterns and concepts that underpin capitalism and enable it to function. Themes such as Reduction, Exploitation and Colonialism.
This exploration of the concepts changed the style of the last piece in this series. Focussed on the nature of value and how intrinsic this idea is both in the perpetuation of capitalism through agreed valuation of commodities and resources. As well as the imperialist nature of capitalism in the way it seeks to ascribe a value to everything from a workers time, to a piece of land, to a human life. The piece charts the change in what’s revered by society. From Animistic Gods, to brands such as Tesla and Apple as it does so it also charts the ascent of man.
The last feature of this Exhibition is a series of smaller drawings completed alongside the larger series that spans the arch in the main room. Completed often quickly and with less contemplation than the bigger pieces their often atavistic nature draws in a variety of techniques and styles creating drawn collages. Featuring wrapping paper, book illustrations and invented manifestations of capitalist monsters. These works show the more emotional side of an artist genuinely disturbed by the forces of inequality encouraged by this autocratic economic system.