Joe hesketh - itch

On first reading Joe Hesketh’s work can be seem like eye candy, light fluffy and sweet. Look closer and other flavours start to emerge.

Someone has been let loose in the dressing up box, someone perhaps slightly unhinged with dubious intentions. Flesh, the body, womanhood are all in play here, now hidden now revealed with a nervous laugh echoing behind it all.

Candy coloured confections from yesteryear, heavy on the sugar and cream, and all things artificial. A real knickerbocker gory. Too easy to lap up and guzzle down, but too much of this for too long can bring its own costs, anyone for tooth decay? And then there’s that particularly modern sin, obesity. There are always costs to pay for easy pleasures. Beware those things that bring easy comfort and beware the things that are just so ‘nice’.

Joe Hesketh tells us growing up in a northern town was not easy, a weird mix of the ordinary and irregular, survived through a secret blend of eccentricity and self belief. The whole experience she once described as like living in a hairdressing salon, set in a cheap zombie movie, and looking at the current exhibition we can kind of see what she means.

Oil paint is so slippery and smelly, so luscious so tasty, making all surfaces a source of arousal. Just like the polymorphous perversity of Freud’s primal child. These paintings pivot between delight and depravity. False noses, false faces, and falsies parade across the canvas. Pendulous lobes of flesh or prosthetics perhaps, dangle and droop .Clowning around in the toy cupboard, temptation turns to transgression, delightfully disciplined dumb but deluxe, someone somewhere has been spilling their guts.

These paintings and sculptures come with a caution, they are both yummy and unsettling at the same time. And never far away is a swaying underbelly of menace, tantalizing, like an itch that cannot be reached.

Oulan Nagardo

Budapest February 2019