Luke Jackson-Charlie Smith Gallery

Charlie Smith is a sweet, sweet Gallery of interesting art in an unpretentious space. Perhaps also its location upstairs in The Reliance on Old street, or that the gallery often has group shows of up and coming artists, is why I enjoy it so much.

Interview with gallery’s Director, Zavier Ellis
directed and edited by Paolo Pascolo)


LUKE JACKSON | The Good Tourist

    Friday May 25th – Saturday June 23rd


I walked into the space and was confronted by thick, black, textured paintings with a flash of colour. But wait, there was something going on in the surface of the paintings. Some kind of figure or groups of figures…. surrounded by a gooey, black tar like surface of thick glossy paint. Are they tourists in an oil slick or holidaying in hell? Why are they good TOURISTS?

 I read the press release from Charlie Smith Gallery to find out more about  Luke Jackson.

As the artist states:

“The storyline of Kafka, where assistants are messengers from one group to another, where no one has a firm place in the world and no inalienable outline, shapes the overall enigma of the work…no one fixed position is delineated and a currency of tourism is developed where the image slips between the past, is re-contextualised and used as varying points of departure.”

Tourism is travel for recreational, leisure or business purposes. The World Tourism Organization defines tourists as people “traveling to and staying in places outside their usual environment for not more than one consecutive year for leisure, business and other purposes.” So tourism in the artwork is the images out of context, floating, suspended in a nowhere place, and a nowhere time, in painterly marks and thick glossy surfaces. In a way, the figures are forced to be permanent and always present, as they are deeply embedded into this surface. As the definition of a tourists suggest, they might need to vacate in under a year, but this is not possible, as they seemed trapped. The figures do not notice the painterly blackness and do not connect or engage with it. There is a clear separation and yet a connection between the arrangement of figures emerging from the black goo and the black goo itself, which conceals, reveals, protects and captures.

Upon further reading, I think Jackson wants the viewer to question the role of painting and of historic image and so the painting process is a way of combining ideas on to one surface to create a complete concept with history acting as an informer to his work.

As Jackson states;

 “Painting can have the potential to envelop perceived notions and allow for a litany of possibilities…”

 He also says;

“I am Interested In the obsessive fetishism of the enigma and how it shifts and becomes objectified. Each persona acts a guidance inhabiting the work and dictating its eventual outcome.”

 Now would the enigma of The Good Tourist exhibition be created by the two opposing motifs (of figures and black impasto surface) purposefully disguising any clear context for the viewer. Not only that, but the title throws another dimension to the artwork. Why are they good tourists? The work definitely has made me question the meaning behind Jackson’s practice. There is simplicity in that Jackson approaches painting and image in a straight forward way, in regards to their physicality, but then the paintings become weighty with conceptual ambiguity and slippages. The works seems to hover between poles of figuration+abstraction, concept+skill, detail+obliteration and form+content. Is the viewer the good tourist that hovers uncertainly from one artistic code to another and is prevented from settling? The viewer succumbs to that mental nowhere land of Jackson’s and therefore obeys?  Good tourist?


“In 2007 Luke and Sam Jackson were the first brothers in history to graduate together from the Royal Academy Schools in London. He has exhibited in galleries and museums in London, Berlin, Frankfurt, New York, Los Angeles and Klaipėda in seminal group shows including New Contemporaries, Anticipation and The Saatchi Gallery & Channel 4’s New Sensations and The Future Can Wait. Jackson won first prize at ArtWorks Open in 2011 and has featured in Art Monthly, Artforum, The Times, Financial Times, Miser & Now and Garageland.”