The Mesopotamia Babylon was one of the first global cities. The term “babel” (confusion set by multiple languages) originates from Babylon and the biblical story of the tower of Babel. The story goes that after the flood all of mankind spoke one language and decided to build a tower in Babylon to honor themselves, a monument that can attest to the feats of humankind. God was unhappy and dispersed everyone through the creation of language. The people could not understand each other to organize the build. Because of this, so much confusion ensued that everyone went their separate ways leaving Babylon and the tower to ruin.
Gerry Judah’s current exhibition at Flowers East shows a modern Babylon – more specifically, buildings structures with the look of 1970’s brutalist architecture left in ruination. The same post-apocalyptic, post nuclear fallout narrative is applied to all of the pieces on show. The only differences amount to the composition and the color. The work pulls the viewer very thin; it confuses by sitting the pieces between states of being a narrative, a compositional exploration, an architectural model (of dilapidation), a frozen vignette, a sculpture, and a painting. Perhaps the work embodies all these traits and also embodies the same conceptual framework that references the end of the tower.
The individual structures are massively impressive in their construction. The elegant lines created by the aerial antennas and communication cables leading from the tops of the buildings nicely conjures the dual imagery of an explosion of the 3D structure, when viewed from an angle, and an implosion into the picture plane, when viewed straight on. There is a nice tension being created by juxtaposing an extremely messy formation and muting it with a blanket coating of color. The installation of structures usually sat on a horizontal plane presented on vertical axis makes for a privileged birds eye view of the damaged areas. The paintings are almost like silent devastation photographs after the hurricane or post bombing, the difference obviously is that Judah has made the landscapes into hyper bas-relief. I suppose through the exhibition title one can assume that this is Judah’s maquette , for foreshadowing the demise of a capitalist world. “The higher the tower, the harder it falls”.
-- David Yu
All Images Courtesy The Artist and Flowers East London
Images from top to bottom:( White Country 2 2009, mixed media and acrylic on canvas, 200 x 260 x 100 cm; Red Country 1 2009, mixed media and oil on canvas, 240 x 240 x 118 cm)