Despite the superabundance of images produced by a multitude of software programs across personal and cultural networks, painting is still a revolutionary act. Painting unifies the heart and mind to create a window onto another world and enables us to envision for ourselves what is real and true... It is an act of spiritual freedom and revolution.
Nick Fudge, one of the original Young British Artists whose cohort included Damien Hirst, Sarah Lucas, Gary Hume, and Michael Landy, reemerged in 2015 after a prolonged practice of solitary and secretive art making. A one-time protégé of Michael Craig-Martin and Jon Thompson, Fudge infamously destroyed his Goldsmiths oeuvre on the eve of his graduate show and absconded to the US to undertake an early 1990s Postmodern vision quest. Fudge’s carefully-trained and art-historically informed paintings, drawings and prints that improvised on the Renaissance Old Masters, were seismically altered by both his encounter with the majestic on-the-road landscape of the American West and his discovery of early Adobe image editing software designed for the Macintosh Classic II — itself codenamed the ‘Montana’. Apple computers became Fudge’s ersatz atelier wherein he spent years, reproducing by hand, the visual architecture of the programs themselves onto his manipulated images as allegorical framing devices; as well as key works of the Modernist canon in vector and rasterized programs – playing with their fractures and erasures, glitches and rotations. Of the literally thousands of digital works Fudge created over the span of twenty-five years, a small percentage have found their way again into the materiality of paint or print, assuring their continued existence after the inevitable (and imminent) collapse of the digital matrix. Given Fudge’s penchant for ‘delay’ in the Duchampian sense, coupled with the ever-increasing obsolescence of his Macintosh Classic II and its legacy software, it seems only a matter of time before all these images disappear forever — like ‘tears in rain’, so to speak — thus making invaluable the paintings and prints that do manage to surface from his imperilled archive. In using delay to chasten his output, Fudge has built a fortress of solitude in cyberspace empowering him to make asynchronous works — works both in and out of the present and also somehow in the future. In this way, Fudge reconceptualises something of Duchamp’s thinking for the neo-liberal digital age, but from a post-Internet perspective of the apocalypse.