In Undo Redo Return Nick Fudge brings contemporary digital imaging into exquisite tension with his reworking of masterpieces from Modernist painters such as Duchamp, Picabia, Picasso and Johns (all artists who questioned or pushed the boundary of what painting was understood to be. In this show, Fudge asks: ‘what is painting in the age of hyper imaging (in the past, present and future)?’, ‘where is it going?’ and ‘will painting endure in the future?’. These are important questions, especially given the new ways we can now see images: as multiple copies; from multiple vantages; across multiple media; and even in virtual spaces.
Undo redo return opens with Fudge’s depiction of the American desert, the location of the gold rush and now home to Silicon Valley. This arid setting for the rise of new world entrepreneurism sits opposite a lush French landscape, which evokes a sense of old world romance. A series of oil paintings and digitally constructed images have been installed over these grand landscapes to act as ‘double images’. The oil paintings invoke the imagery of Modernist painting - yet they are painted in response to today’s digital age where image making has become hyper productive and increasingly product-oriented. Together these digital images and paintings create an exquisite yet uncomfortable tension between them - the present, past and future all hang together and seem to simulate a sort of augmented reality.
Reality or the appearance of the 'real' is at the core of this body of work. Some of Fudge's works appear to be screenshots of GUI's or digital photographic images. However, they are actually all drawn by hand using digital drawing (vector) tools. In this way, Fudge questions the constructed reality of the image. Fudge's paintings address the possibilities of the digital workspace, the labour of which extends beyond what is humanly possible. For example, you can undo an activity in 'real' life - or you can layer digital and analogue materials, techniques and time-space together. This process of moving back and forth between digital and analogue activities and realities is demonstrated in the painting Undo Redo #5. The range of gestural marks are done and undone (and are also painted in reverse) until it enters, as Fudge explains, a "hardcore painted abstraction of digital architectures and processes".
This bold and thought provoking show encourages the viewer to continuously question what they think they can see. Fudge's work is brilliantly ambitious and as we are dragged further and further into the digital age, it becomes increasingly important to ask the questions Fudge is confronting us with.