David Ratcliff’s works pervert the aesthetics of manufactured Pop with a street smart grittiness. Using the methods of back alley vandalism, Ratcliff converts the irreverence of stencil graffiti into lush canvases of cutting-edge desire. Hijacking images from smut mags, home decor journals, consumer pamphlets, and the internet, Ratcliff’s spray painted ‘collages’ exist as two-tone fields that advance and recede with instantaneous luxury. His works operate as ‘back catalogues’ or contemporary history paintings. As Ratcliff explains, “their meaning sits in a place of definition in relation to everything in culture that isn’t an original communication”.
Masking filthy black with lurid plastic colours, Ratcliff’s canvases resound with a corrupted beauty. Recalling comic book illustration, trippy posters, and Warhol’s disaster prints, Ratcliff’s enmeshed images regurgitate mass media melt down. Overlapped, fragmented, and given solarised effect, the immediately recognisable disintegrates into abstracted frenzy as Ratcliff’s highly polished surfaces fray in subtle offsets, drizzles, and mists.
Influenced by the opulent grandeur of 80s art, Ratcliff’s work embodies all the fashion and glamour associated with that decade of decadence. Employing the literary structures of writers Brett Easton Ellis and Dennis Cooper, his paintings archive disposable iconography in a series of ‘lists’ reflecting a non-narrative vacuity: pornography, celebrity, and status symbols culminate as cultural identification and critique. Replicating their high design with the lo-tech process, Ratcliff renders their allure as both compelling and degenerate, posing media induced anxiety as the ultimate commodity du jour.

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