| November 2 – December 1 |
This latest solo exhibition by Craig Cole is a series of works that continue his exploration of the contemporary urban environment. This exhibition combines aspects of our shared surroundings that begin at the streetscape. The back of the traffic sign stands formidably against a concrete background that emulates a familiar urban environment. Simply still, the forlorn labels spontaneously placed by people, presents us with a populous dialogue. Strangely, a sense of movement of the pebbles contributes to a silent discourse.
To confound the ubiquity of signs that appear in these paintings, they are presented to us elaborately framed. The frames allude to the traditional Italian Renaissance paintings of religious imagery, which signified importance and value. These objects were framed as an extension of wealth and reflective of the surroundings of where the paintings were placed. A reversal of significance can be seen in the context of Cole’s contemporary images, which is not that of a person but of a shared environment.
Cole’s reconnoitre of the abandoned and forgotten people who are unaccounted for, that is, outside mainstream society coincides with the painted street signs. Cole executes their existence skilfully by a painted photographic snapshot of people on the peripheral of society – people who may not conform to social norms or fit the model citizen suit. People who use their own means of survival that is instinctive of the human spirit. They may limp; wear clothes that are irregular, scream when it’s not appropriate or simply feed pigeons for pleasure when they can’t afford food for themselves. The raw and complicated paintings on polished cold concrete gives the image a solid ground on which to exist.
As noted American geographer Pierce Lewis once said “Our human landscape is our unwitting autobiography…the culture of any nation is unintentionally reflected in its ordinary vernacular landscape”. As is the paintings of Cole, the observation of contemporary society and the language that forms on signposts is a testament to our existence.
Chantal Wynter, 2012
 Lippard, L.R. (1997). The Lure of the Local: senses of place in a multicentered society New York: New Press.