The Foot DoctorView From The Outside

Anthony Jadunath
Contemporary Urban Centre, Greenland Street
28th August – 5th October 2008

Reviewed by Anthony Swords

Whilst walking around the Anthony Jadunath exhibition at the CUC, there were moments when Johnny Hawkworth’s infectious theme tune to Roobarb and Custard played in my head. This is not an insult to the work on display here, but simply a reaction to Jadunath’s style that reminded me of the loud and anarchic cat and dog duo. Indeed much of Judunath’s hallucinatory, cartoon-like work is filled with animals as well as human characters that are reminiscent in form and colour to that of Picasso as well as Roger Hargreaves’ Mr Men series.

The leaflets and information that accompany the exhibition reveal Jadunath’s life to be just as interesting as the work on display, with much of it blighted by abuse, mental disorder and physical disability after being displaced from his home in Trinidad at the young age of nine. With this knowledge, one can come to appreciate the tense nature of Jadunath’s work as a playful, childish simplicity competes with dark, violent undertones. There is a strong sense of rhythm to Jadunath’s art that can be seen in the detailed patterns of the frames, the recurring shapes and characters or blocks of pure colours reminiscent of artists interested in primitive and naive art typical of outsider artwork.

However, with the collection spanning twenty years, we can see Jadunath has developed his own distinct language and off kilter view of the world. The first room is undoubtedly dark, with an overwhelming sense of death and violence pervading many of the pieces like Untitled #3, Untitled #4, Crucifixion and Brixton Bomber. The second room, however, reveals a more playful and humorous sensibility, largely devoted to portraits such as Man With A Dilemma, Play The Bass or Untitled #22, as well as many joyously depicting farmyard animals, pets and their owners.

Many of the pieces on show are untitled and without a date so it is hard to know at what point in Jadunath’s life and his circumstances they were created but undoubtedly this is a rewarding exhibition of a unique nature.

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