To say that Alistair Frost paints clip art is of course true but also sort of reductive. The images are about as seemingly generic as one can get even if the titles aren’t. Some of my favorite in his current two-person show at Mary Mary in Glasgow are point taken...but i just came here to get drunk, 2011, (which appears above) and The best heavy metal album in the world ever 2, 2011; neither title at first glance seems to have anything to do with the image presented to the viewer. I’m not sure if it’s the titles that are dark, his ability to play with familiar imagery in a an unfamiliar way, or the neutral color palettes reminding me nostalgically for my youth (his salmons are to my 80s what goldenrods and avocado were to the 70s, a somewhat ubiquitous interior and fashion color that almost feels like the whole era was sopping with it). But Frost manages to use some of the most debased and authorless imagery with mischief and humor. He isn’t the first artist to use a bit of authorial disorientation, using some deadpan model to more or less choose what he’s going to paint; here’s it’s the searching online for “Clip Art,” but the images themselves and how they’re painted seem to have a wry wit, a mischievious and almost fucked-up gentility.
I remember the first painting by him I saw around three years ago; they were abstract paintings, sort of, depicting things like check marks and punctuation on shifting fields of color. These earlier painting played with some historical precedents with painting but kept it in a kind of abstraction that was less geometric and more symbolic; even these had a sense of delight and play that has been made deeper with the latest series.
(Image: Alistair Frost, point taken...but i just came here to get drunk, 2011, courtesy of the artist and Mary Mary.)