Embodying a literary magical realism, Goss’s paintings allude to a placeless-ness and timelessness, a parallel world of mystical wonder. Calenture Fostic draws from America’s pioneer beginnings. The urban Europeans who settled the vast prairie wilderness were often overcome by a sickness or syndrome from the oppression of too much space; the word ‘calenture’ refers to a tropical illness or heat exhaustion. The carnival-esque figures looming like ghosts were inspired by a vintage photograph of a wandering circus troupe Goss found in a junk shop in California. Goss emulates a sensation of delirium in this otherworldly scene. As if overlaying one history with another, veneers of delicate washes are punctuated by dense impasto detailing, an effect that replicates the faded quality of old photographs and suggests a haunting presence.
‘Lacuna’ is a term for a gap or a long pause, and in this painting Goss construes this idea of tension through formal elements. Goss develops his compositions from photographic collages, which he makes from his own snapshots and found images. These ‘sketches’ are often absurdly surreal, combining out of scale arrangements of unrelated objects: his studio floor might double as a desert, or a birdcage for a building. He then makes watercolour studies of these before beginning his canvases. This process allows for a slippage in translation, where his time-worn subjects become reduced and distorted through multiple interpretations – the end result bears little resemblance to the original source. In Lacuna, Goss heightens this sense of disjointedness using contradictory styles and textures. The thick geometric patterns that comprise the pool are the most concrete element of the image, while the landscape itself melts away in ephemeral gestures, lost to its own abstracted reflection.